Washington Elks Therapy Program for Children

Shakthi is an 11-year-old young warrior with persistent mind and a great sense of humor. Shakthi is a loving kid who loves to make people smile with his jokes. He loves art, music, gym and adaptive horseback riding and of course sensory play. Shakthi was born prematurely at 24 weeks and soon after his birth we found that he had internal bleeding in his brain due to extreme prematurity. This led to a condition called hydrocephalus, which is a collection of fluids in the brain, and he needs a permanent brain shunt to drain those excessive fluids. In his young life, he has had to undergo 13 surgeries for shunt placement and revisions. He developed seizures at a very young age and has long term dependency on seizure medications. Due to his highly complex medical status, he has severe cerebral palsy which makes him wheelchair dependent along with various developmental delays. He has very low vision with cortical vision impairment, behavior challenges and feeding intolerance.

Our whole life revolves around Shakthi with multiple doctor and therapy appointments. We always had to find the balance between therapies and needed to find a therapist who could come to our home. Our hunt for home therapy ended after we got to know about the Elks Therapy Program. Shakthi started receiving home Occupational Therapy in 2019. We are really blessed to have our therapist come to our home and prepare family centered goals to march Shakthi towards independence. In 2020, when we are all hit by the pandemic, Shakthi underwent major hip surgery and we were forced to provide all the care required for Shakthi, alone at home. Our therapist gave a holistic approach through virtual sessions, which not only supported Shakthi to regain his skills, but also all the entire family during the highly needed period.

When we started our sessions, Shakthi was fully dependent on us for all his self-care activities. Our therapist takes one task at a time and spends lot of time brainstorming with us to come up with a strategy to assist Shakthi in achieving his goal. It is sometimes difficult to keep Shakthi motivated when learning something new and difficult, but she always finds ways to keep the sessions fun and upbeat, including encouraging Shakthi’s younger sister to participate, something a therapy clinic cannot provide. She always says “Repetition, repetition, repetition!” or “You can do hard things!” when teaching Shakthi a new skill. Shakthi has always needed full assistance to eat and finish a meal, but with her persistent and client-centered efforts, now Shakthi is able to feed himself independently or with very little assistance. This has made a huge difference for our family.

I know we have a long way to go, and the path is not going to be an easy freeway drive, but all the emotional and professional support we receive from our Elks therapist gives us the much-needed boost to continue our rough, yet beautiful, journey. We are grateful for all the Elks Members and dedicated therapists!