Antoinette Laughlin

Elks donation opens door for family looking for speech therapy

A quest to find a speech therapy program to help Antoinette Laughlin's child learn to speak has brought the family to a Seattle, Wash...

A quest to find a speech therapy program to help Antoinette Laughlin’s child learn to speak has brought the family to a Seattle, Wash. clinical program – one where costs are not covered by Alberta Health Services. The Stettler Elks stepped in to help shoulder the costs.

Every step of Laughlin’s child’s development, from the first kick in the womb until the first step, was met with excitement. That is, until her beautiful child didn’t speak.

The delayed speech eventually led Laughlin and her family to work with a therapist, undergoing “intensive and extensive” speech therapy. Despite that, Laughlin’s smart and growing child still had trouble communicating and speaking. Now a teenager, the younger Laughlin is shy but happy, she said.

A program in Seattle, Wash., offers hope for the family and they’ll be leaving for the first session later this month. The cost of the treatment is about $5,000, but that doesn’t include the costs associated with the treatment – multiple trips to Seattle, lodging, time off work, travel documents and so forth, none of which is covered by Alberta Health Services. Nor is the treatment itself.

That’s where the Stettler Elks stepped in.

“We’re always willing to help families, especially in medical situations, when they can’t afford it themselves,” Clive Spechko, leading knight of the Stettler Elks, said.

Spechko and Phil Holton presented Laughlin with a cheque for $1,000, and has helped Laughlin apply to the national Elks organization for further assistance.

The female branch of the Elks, the Royal Purple, is also looking into ways it can help the family.

For Laughlin, it’s almost too much.

“The speech pathologist told us early on if it didn’t work, to approach the Elks for help,” Laughlin explained. “She said they did lots of work with speech and hearing.”

Laughlin made presentations to both the Elks and the Royal Purple branches in Stettler, but said it wasn’t easy to go before the two groups despite how welcoming, friendly, and comforting everyone has been.

“It’s asking for more when I already have so much,” Laughlin explained, tearing up.

“I am humbled and overwhelmed with gratitude for the community in which we live,” she said. “And for the dedicated men of the Elks who spend their time volunteering, raising money to help in situations like these.”

The family has high hopes for the treatment in Seattle, trips they said they wouldn’t have to be making if the same sort of clinical option was available here in Alberta.

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