Washington Elks Therapy Program for Children

Archer learned “In and Out”!

How many times do we put an item in something or take an item out of something throughout our day? Our wallets go in and out of our pockets, keys go in and out of the car ignition, dishes are put in and taken out of cabinets… Within the first hour of my day today, I tried to count how many times I used this “in and out” skill. I lost count before finishing breakfast.

Archer, who is 4 years old, was diagnosed with hypotonia as an infant, meaning has muscle weakness throughout his body. This causes “global developmental delay”, specifically in areas such as crawling, standing, walking, and talking. Archer’s ability to plan movement (for example, moving a toy into and out of a box) has been an ongoing challenge in Archer’s life. Archer’s parents have supported him in every way possible since his birth, including enrolling him in early intervention services until the age of 3. He has received physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy throughout his life. “Putting in and taking out” has been a long-term goal for Archer, his parents, and his health care providers alike. For those of you with children, try to reflect back to when they first fit a plastic toy ball into a box. This skill “typically” emerges before a child’s first birthday. For a child with “global developmental delay”, there is no handbook to tell us when exactly this skill should emerge.

Archer’s father is a retired veteran and his mother is active duty army. These are exemplary parents who not only serve our country, but are an inspiration in perseverance in their tireless dedication
to Archer, their oldest daughter Leela, and newborn son, Ace. Regardless of
unpredictable deployments, moves across the country, endless doctors’

appointments, the stress of changing Archer’s therapists and medical team each move, raising children during a pandemic, or the long hours of mom’s work schedule, they have not missed a single opportunity to help Archer learn and grow. Unfortunately, due to the high demand for pediatric therapy services and insurance limitations, Archer has not been able to receive the therapy services he needs in a clinic setting. Fortunately, the Washington Elks have been able to “fill in the gap”!

On August 10th, during a virtual therapy visit, I observed Archer copy a movement his sister made, something I have not seen in the past. Could we take this to the next level and encourage Archer to copy his dad or sister putting a ball into and out of a box? Knowing how monumental this moment could be, I was able to record the session and capture the moment in real-time. The pictures you see are a literal snapshot of Archer’s breakthrough. With a huge smile on his face, Archer successfully put a ball into and out of a box multiple times throughout the session. In the background of the video, you can hear Archer’s sister cheering him on “Go, Archer, go!”. After which, his father made a comment that perfectly exemplifies the importance of this program. “It’s the little moments like this that mean everything, these jumps in his progress that we usually don’t notice…”.

Thank you, Washington Elks, for supporting Archer, his family, and all the families whose children would otherwise “fall through the cracks” of our traditional medical system. Further, thank you for your continued support of the therapy program in these turbulent and unpredictable times. Rest assured, your therapists are still working hard on the front lines to help the Washington Elks achieve the mission of changing the lives of children and their families with passion and enthusiasm!