We traveled to Seattle for our first visit of the new year. Boyer had been on our list of interests for some time. Receiving knowledge of the organization in the fall. The day wasn’t ideal for our journey. As the Seattle rain, soaked the roads we traversed along our way. While researching Boyer leading into our meeting something caught my attention about the organization. They seemed to have one clear focus. Boyer appeared to concentrate purely on Early Intervention. It felt unique throughout the research we had done. Many other organization seem to diversify themselves with the services provided. The preparation was leaving me with excited anticipation for our trip. Looking forward to learning more. Taking the exit for the University of Washington, we headed south, finding ourselves in neighborhood streets. Feeling momentarily turned around, we luckily pulled alongside an older appearing brick building. With knowledge of underground parking, the ramp heading down became visible to our left. The short ramp revealed a small garage of about fifteen spaces. At first glance it looked full and with the rain falling, parking along the neighborhood streets could have been a bummer. So, with a hopeful prayer I pulled down the ramp. A moment later, the hidden spot appeared on my right, just steps from the entrance. With a half hour to spare, it was time to experience Boyer.
We climbed into the elevator and rose one floor. We were greeted kindly before sitting in two chairs. Looking around the main lobby provided comfort on this rainy day. Across from us sat a couch with two of the largest stuffed animals in my memory. No doubt geared to provide security for the young children entering an unknown environment. There were moments of wishing to sit on the couch with them, but the urge was managed, as I remained in my chair. Just beyond the couch was a large window bumping up against the glass door on the left. Gazing outside provided a view of the city sidewalk, concluding a path from the front door of Boyer. The rain continued to fall on the grey Seattle day, causing an even greater feeling of security inside. The relaxing gaze out into the rain soaked street was halted by the appearance of a gentleman. With him stood a woman, both with kind expressions, as they introduced themselves. We walked just a few steps down the hallway, turning left into a conference room. The room had good space with a white conference table running down the middle. Comfortable chairs ran down each side. Our hosts walked to the far side of the table, as we slid out chairs just feet from the doorway. The wall we faced had windows about half way up, letting in natural light. As we sat to open our binders, the atmosphere of warmth couldn’t be mistaken. You could feel nothing to be apprehensive about.
As our meeting began, business cards were exchanged with an information sheet about Boyer. The meeting with Boyer had already become unique. Usually meeting with one individual, this meeting involved two people. My curiosity was quickly focused around the woman joining us at the table. It didn’t take long for us to become thankful for her presence. With thirty years of experience within the field of physical therapy. There would be mounds of information to envelope during our window of time. With the meeting just under way, there was something found during my pre-meeting research. Having taken mental note and wanting to avoid the thought slipping away. Complimenting Boyer on the creation of their website felt important, it was straight forward, and easily understood. While moving on into our discussion, we started learning some nuts and bolts information about the organization. One of the most interesting was their origination year of 1942. Giving them almost 80 years of experience. Another fascinating aspect was spending those years centrally focused on young children. They remain concentrated on Early Intervention for children from birth to 3 years of age. Before releasing children with special needs into the school district to continue their education.
While we have been visiting Early Intervention organizations, we find fascinating information. We are continuously curious over the steps following Early Intervention programs. The transitions throughout life with cerebral palsy can present challenges. One of the first areas of transition we have found becomes moving out of Early Intervention. Children often enter into a preschool for their next step. Something we didn’t understand was the high rate of expulsion from preschool for special needs children. The preschool may not be equipped to integrate special needs children into their classrooms. So, with the challenge at the preschool level, Boyer has chosen to work toward avoiding this sad possibility. Boyer approaches the challenge from a couple different angles. They have integrated classrooms, where typically developing children learn and play with their special needs peers. There are also playgroups inside the building. Both are geared toward preparing special needs children to succeed in preschool. It was the first time inside of a meeting we heard an organization helping children develop skills to succeed in preschool. Boyer kids are able to enter preschool with well-developed social skills. Having learned skills like sharing, communicating, and behavioral techniques to positively interact with typically developing kids. Even to the point where Boyer alum are recognized in the classroom. We could sense the incredible passion and focus of preparing their children to succeed upon graduating the support of Boyer. But, the organization doesn’t only support the child, they support entire families.
An overriding feeling of being at Boyer was the sense of comfort. There was never an inclination of any thought or idea becoming invalid. The meeting was formed through natural discussion of knowledge and ideas. A connection of kindness and caring seeming to encompass the atmosphere in the building. We got the feeling of an organization fostering a community amongst their members. They do this through different avenues. Not only having family support services and more formal family support groups to attend. But, also by way of parents interacting in less formal environments. We heard of parents coming together while their children are in class. We also learned of the nurturing process of young families at Boyer. Who may not be far removed from the realization of their child with special needs. Allowing them time to move into the idea of being at the Boyer location. There was a strong feeling of their work being customer focused. Desiring to serve and support families in a warm and welcoming environment. Something we heard as this journey began was the isolation that can be felt from having a special needs child. There can be feelings of being different from other families. The care to connect families together during the beginning phases of their journey was impressive. They are connections that can create a lifetime of support. Long after their years with Boyer have been completed. Years of experience and intelligent people provide an understanding of the best way to care for families.
Boyer has been a main center for CP. As part of their history in 1968, they became a leading training center for the NeuroDevelopment Treatment Method. A standard therapy method for children with CP. Today, Boyer begins with an interdisciplinary team for each child. With a nurse as part of each intake meeting. The team of people from different disciplines, along with input from the family, put together a plan to best serve the child and family. This often takes shape in a meeting. Where everyone comes together. Creating the atmosphere of support, while having everyone on the same plan of treatment. As we heard about the great work being done, we wondered the percentage of children with CP. This was the moment when our host of thirty years’ experience gave us encouraging news. The percentage of children with cerebral palsy had decreased over the years. But, not by chance. There was a specific reason for the drop of CP children being seen at Boyer. For all the technological advances making our lives easier, they also reduce the impact of CP. The NICU units in hospitals have greatly advanced during the thirty years. Today, they can place a cooling cap on the head of newborn to reduce swelling of the brain. The advancement reduces the impact of a brain injury, reducing the effect of CP. The process was something familiar to me from hearing of it years ago. But, it became more real when hearing of it this week. It also felt like just one example of the advanced technology to help reduce the impact of the disability.
Upon folding our notebooks and rising from the table, a feeling of thankfulness filled my emotions. Often in doing pre-meeting research there becomes an idea of what we may find. For me, it was learning about an organization completely focused on Early Intervention. Believing from the clearly understandable website, Boyer would be an impressive organization. In addition to finding resources with talent, we hope to meet with good people. Boyer exceeded any expectation we walked in the door having. The ability to be focused on the children and families they serve was clearly evident. They created the same supportive, collaborative environment throughout the meeting that was spoken about with their families. We left the meeting with key words to be written down later. Words to describe our feelings about Boyer like, kind, caring, warm, welcoming, nurturing, experience, focus, customer service, and family support. All concepts I’m sure we can agree to be vital in the early stages of any child’s life. As we walked onto the elevator to descend into the garage, I knew we had just spent time with special people running a special organization.
For more information about Boyer Children’s Clinic please contact:
Michael Stewart, Executive Director
Gay Burton, Chief Program Officer
For more resources on cerebral palsy improvement please contact:
Peter R. Turner, CPWithUs consulting