Washington Elks Therapy Program for Children

Waylan is a 3-year-old boy who has always been bright, diligent, and conscientious when learning new skills. He is extremely interested in how things work, not just that they work. He enjoys playing with his little sister, his dogs, and loves everything that has to do with cars & trucks as well as sea life, especially his favorite purple octopus “Inky”!

Waylan was born prematurely at 25 weeks and 1 day gestation weighing approximately 2 pounds. Complications at birth included having to be intubated (a breathing tube inserted into his trachea for mechanical ventilation), blood transfusions, retinopathy of prematurity, and patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) which is a heart defect that affects the way blood flows through a baby’s lungs. He was also at risk for infant torticollis which happens when the muscles that connect the breastbone and collarbone to the skull (sternocleidomastoid muscle) are shortened. As a result, the baby’s neck muscle is shortened on one side of the neck, and therefore pulls their head into a tilt and/or rotation versus having a symmetrical head and neck posture in midline.

In February 2020, Waylan started early intervention services where he received physical therapy, speech therapy and special instruction. By May 2021, he no longer required physical therapy for his gross motor development but, was referred for occupational therapy services through the WA Elks Therapy Program to address play skills, fine motor perceptual skills, and to monitor sensory processing skills as it related to motor planning (praxis), bilateral coordination, and sensory perceptual delays.

As a toddler, Waylan would often flit between multiple activities without completing them or actively engaging, especially if it was not his most favorite toy or activity. Instead of initiating play on his own, he preferred to be on the move and seek out deep pressure input for sensory regulation with difficulty maintaining attention and activity level appropriate for a particular play task. While Waylan always had great comprehension, his expressive language was delayed.

Today, Waylan’s development has progressed immensely! He has made such amazing progress in all areas of his development that it is hard to tell that he was born prematurely. Waylan can use both hands and fingers independently, using them in more complex tasks such as holding writing utensils, beginning to cut with scissors, lacing beads, and catching a ball in his arms. He is learning to count and recognize letters, especially letters of his name. He is talking in longer sentences and beginning to talk with you in conversations using back and forth exchanges.

In occupational therapy, Waylan is learning perceptual motor planning such as how to imitate building a tower or replicate sequence of actions to games or songs. Imitation is a crucial aspect of skill development because it allows us to learn new things quickly and efficiently by watching those around us. Most children learn everything from gross motor movements, to speech, to interactive play skills by watching parents, siblings, and peers perform tasks and behaviors.

Waylan and his parents have been committed to participating in occupational therapy sessions initially on a weekly basis and now, graduating to a bi- weekly visitation schedule with in- person visits. His parents have been instrumental in following through with therapeutic strategies and recommendations. Finding activities that are intrinsically motivating, being creative with therapy activities, and remembering that learning needs to be fun without undo pressure, has been key to Waylan’s progress towards his therapy goals!

The family cannot express their gratitude enough to the ELKS MEMBERSHIP for their kindness, generosity, and passion for helping families like themselves. They feel so incredibly grateful and blessed to receive the gift of the Elks Therapy Program for Children!