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.
by Morgan Chilson
Joshua Glavin will be 8 years old on Dec. 2. He’s everything you expect in a young boy – smart , determined, energetic.
He keeps that positive attitude despite a lifetime spent overcoming challenges caused by cerebral palsy. It’s that streak of determination that keeps his mother, Jodi Glavin, fighting to help him find ways to do everything other little boys are doing.
“It gives you a reason to do all these things and fight for everything,” Jodi said.
“The neat thing about him is he won’t take no for an answer. He wants to be doing everything the person next to him is doing. He’ll look at you, and you can’t tell him no, and you figure out a way for him to do it.”
Helping Joshua accomplish the things he wants to do became much easier for the Glavin family when they sought assistance from Capper Foundation, giving Joshua the skills, technology and help he needs. Like many Capper clients, the Glavins don’t live in the Topeka area, and the staff travels about two hours to work with him. The family also has traveled to Topeka for a variety of services.
The Glavins first contacted Capper for an Infant Assistive Technology Evaluation when Joshua was 3 to determine the best way to allow him to be mobile.
“Our team out here wasn’t real comfortable evaluating for power wheelchairs,” Jodi explained. “Capper staff helped us select and obtain a power chair, a computer for learning and communication, and they also helped us get a (tricycle). He still used the trike, now independently, and can go out and ride it all over the driveway with the other kids.”
A physical therapist, specializing in seating and mobility, provides the expertise necessary to seat Josh in a comfortable and relaxed position so he can use a computer keyboard, a joystick to run his wheelchair and, at the same time, access his communication device. Once that was done, the Glavins were able to use Rehabilitation Engineering Services at Capper to have adjustments made to a wheelchair so Josh could learn to drive independently.
“An engineer moved the controls so Josh could reach them and then fabricated a different type of joystick that Josh’s small hands could use,” Dunbar said.
The staff not only has helped with a wheelchair but has helped the Glavins get a “stander” to help Josh stand and a walker to help him learn to walk, Jodi said.
When Joshua was 3, he received a basic computer that helped him in learning and communicating. Since then, he has received other devices that have allowed him to expand his communication skills. The Capper Foundation staff members not only help the Glavins determine what device will work best for Josh but also assist in training him and his parents on how to use the computer.
The whole process is about vision. Josh has the attitude, the desire and the personality to achieve. It’s about making that happen. Assistive Technology Services at Capper does everything it can to turn those visions into reality.
“We are only limited by what we can imagine,” said Gary Downey, rehab engineer. “Who would have imagined 50 years ago that we would be able to propel a motorized wheelchair with a wireless device about the size of a quarter that fits into our mouth like dentures? Technology is becoming exponentially smaller, faster, smarter and more biocompatible. How we utilize that technology is up to us.”
Capper is working hard to ensure that changes in technology will be applied to enhance the independence of people with physical disabilities.