Jacob Finlay (Circa 1993)

Disclaimer: The following was transcribed from an article in the Capper Foundation Archives published by The Topeka Capital-Journal. The choice of words used at the time this was written may not reflect current Capper Foundation inclusive language and views.­

Jacob Finlay (Circa 1993)

by Robert Peterson

All Jacob Finlay wants for Christmas is a voice.

The 6-year old Tecumseh child can’t speak, so he has never been able to talk to those around him. He can’t communicate a need by grasping an object or even pointing to it.

But Jacob has a lot to say, reports Barry Molineux, a speech pathologist who works with Jacob at the Capper Foundation.

Jacob has lived for six years with no means of communication in a world where everyone else is talking. But that frustration has left no emotional scars, Molineux said.

In his classroom Friday at the foundation, Jacob hammed it up for a photographer and showed excitement about meeting new people. He displayed an easy laugh and a warm smile. And he was showing off just a little.

“He has a lot of understanding about the world,” Molineux said. “He is very interested in learning, highly attentive and enthusiastic.”

Molineux, Jacob’s teachers at Capper and his mother, Sheila Albright like to emphasize Jacob’s strengths.

He has an excellent attitude and loving disposition, Molineux said. He has good hearing and eyesight.

Jacob was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was 3 months old. He is just now beginning to learn to use his strengths along with high-tech equipment to communicate with others.

“We have amazing technology today that can be used as a tool to help Jacob talk with us, learn, move and socialize. He is learning to use a very basic unit of this equipment,” Molineux said.

Jacob is training on a Zygo 16 scanning device and “parrot,” a voice output system. By triggering the system with head movements, he is able to make choices and let his opinions be known.

It can be used for his classroom education and eventually, he could become independently mobile by using the system to drive a motorized wheelchair.