| Washington Elks Therapy Program for Children

It is impossible to accurately describe the desperate, helpless feeling of watching as your firstborn child, a baby not more than a week old, lies motionless as he is poked, prodded, tested and assessed. There is a sickening sensation as your hopes and dreams slowly sink from your grasp and into the darkness. My journey to rediscovering the light of hope was not as easy one, but I was fortunate to have found some powerful allies along the way.

When my son, David was eight days old, he suffered multiple seizures due to lack of blood flow to his brain. Deprived of nourishment, a major part of his occipital lobe (the vision center of the brain), and small areas of his frontal lobe, sustained damage. David spent nine nights in the hospital, four of them in the NICU. His medical team warned me and my husband that our son may be blind, deaf, and may never speak or walk.

A few weeks after we were released from the hospital, we visited our pediatrician for David’s checkup. He recommended that David begin working with an occupational therapist from the Elks. I knew little about the Elks at that time, but I’m so thankful for them now. When David was two months old, Kathy, the Elks Therapist, called me to arrange her first visit.

After telling me a little about herself and the Elks, Kathy did something amazing. She listened. She told me that I knew my son better than anyone, and she was interested in my point of view. She didn’t judge, diagnose, or question. She took notes. Afterward, she played with David and gave me some ideas to learn more about his likes and dislikes so that we could better understand and help him. She let me know what to expect from her future visits, what her goals were for David, she gave me hope. That day, Kathy took my hand and helped me take my first step out of the darkness.

David is now eight months old, and over the past six months he has learned to hold his head up, roll over, visually track objects and come very close to sitting up and crawling. Best of all, he’ll look you in the eye and light up your day with his megawatt smile. Kathy is not only an OT who is helping my son to see and to tackle milestone after milestone, she is also an ally. I look forward to Kathy’s weekly visits because I know her experience and knowledge will help David progress to his full potential. She’s also helped me to realize that the light I had been looking for was right in front of me. It was David. I owe a lot to he, and to the Elks. Organizations such as the Elks fight the most important battles: helping children and empowering families. With their help, David’s future is so bright, I get to wear shades! Thank you, Elks for being there for us.