| Washington Elks Therapy Program for Children

I would like to introduce you to Samuel. Samuel was born as a 29-week 4-day gestation preemie. He was exposed to drugs, alcohol, homelessness and failure to thrive in utero due to the lifestyle choices of his biological mom. He was discharged from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at 9 weeks old with severe acid reflux which necessitated the needs for medications and an apnea monitor. We decided early on that we would give him all the care, treatment and services to provide him the best start given his uncertain future.

During Samuel’s first years we had many medical appointments as well as supportive services. Samuel was experiencing delays beyond using his adjusted age to meet many of his developmental milestones. He graduated from the NICU follow up clinic, Birth to 3 and later tested out of Developmental Preschool at 4 years old having met enough criteria on his Individual Education Plan. He was still delayed in his social/emotional category.

Without the services and extra eyes on him, Samuel began showing signs of increased anxiety, ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder. Sleep has always been an issue, but it continued to decline to the point that neither of us were getting much sleep on a regular basis. Samuel began experiencing food and texture issues, both oral and environmental, angry outbursts and stooling issues. We sought medical advice for his “behavioral issues” without much help or intervention.

Our therapist from the ELKS came into our lives a couple months before COVID hit and changed the world. This program with the ELKS has literally been a life changer! We were able to create a rapport and bond with her before she was no longer able to make home visits due to COVID. Besides our weekly home visits, our therapist has visited doctor appointments (Who knew MaryBridge had a poop clinic?), given input and feedback for accommodations needed at school and become a true confidant to Samuel and myself!

Although we continue to work towards Samuel’s treatment goals, he has shown growth in areas that allowed him to be successful during our distance learning time. I was fully supported by our Occupational Therapist from the ELKS and given the tools to help understand, overcome and teach him on common ground without meltdowns from both of us. We didn’t always make it through every zoom, but I was taught that was okay and Samuel, not the zoom, comes first.

I know our lives would look vastly different without the knowledge and support that your program provides. This last year has been difficult for us all but ours had the benefit of our weekly meetings with our Elks Therapist. I truly cannot thank the ELKS enough for the assistance in helping Samuel become the best Samuel that he can be!

Washington State Elks Association