Saturday, 5 January 2008


You couldn't make it up

A BBC journalist writes –

Conductive therapy assumes that people with cerebral palsy (like me) can somehow learn to overcome our movement difficulties through repeating the same tasks over and over again. So rather than adapt our homes, transport, and equipment to be accessible, we ourselves must learn to adapt. But personally speaking, I'd rather have my accessible bungalow any day of the week.
Professor Mike Oliver once wrote that if conductive therapy wasn't so sad, it would be funny. It aims to help people achieve a 'normal lifestyle' - whatever that means. After all, being regularly strung up in a cage for hours at a time may be 'normal' for the inmates of Guantanamo Bay, but it certainly doesn't constitute a normal lifestyle where I come from.
The other week, whilst being given a tour of a conductive therapy centre in Saudi Arabia, I came across a rather disturbing sight: a child with cerebral palsy, stood in a cage and being held upright with bungee cords. My guide said this treatment lasted for four to five hours a day over a few months, but was vaguer when I asked how this would benefit the child. Granted, I could see how it probably strengthened their leg muscles through increased weight-bearing, but surely there must be more humane, engaging and inclusive ways to practice standing? This poor kid looked bored rigid. 
I consider myself fortunate enough never to have been subjected to conductive therapy. Despite pressure from the special school that I went to, my mother resisted putting me through something that she saw as cruel and fought to get me a decent education instead. Years later, there's still little evidence to prove that it works. With hindsight, whilst a number of disabled friends spring to mind who found it oppressive, I can only think of one who claims to have benefited from it.
So it really does seem to me that when it comes to disabled children, anything goes...

There's more, and it gets better. Read the lot at:

Please don't write to me.

The author is Laurence Clark, a journalist and 'sit down comedian'., The webpage cited above has a facility wherby you can respond to him publicly, should you wish. If you do have anything to say to him, please put it direct.

Ouch! by the way describes 'a website from the BBC that reflects the lives and experiences of disabled people.' Its editorial team, it adds, 'is rather wonky...'

This is all such a terrible shame, that such tosh should still be appearing at the end of 2007, and under such a reputable imprimatur at that.

Does Conductive Education in countries other that the United Kingdom, I wonder, have to face this persistent irritation?


  1. Andrew, something has happened to the font choices and font sizes of this posting so that beyond half way down it is so small as to be unreadable.

    Is there any chance that blogger allows you to repost it with the font corrected?


  2. I've done my best to obligle. Problem is twofold. First, I'm not happy that I've found a satisfactory way of indicating quotations in the text. Secondly, although the system is fairly foolproof I'm still learning and short of mastery. Formats on blogspot sometimes seem to have a will of their own! Will keep on trying.

    More substantitivrely, what did you think of the content of this posting?

  3. What a shame!
    The only way, in our experience to combat this misleading information is to open our doors widely to visitors and to be very proactive in inviting all those who reject due to unreliable, old misconceptions to our centers. A well designed observation and exposition of our educational work we earn new supportes and spokepersons on behalf of the Israeli conductive education. No lecture, film or talk, good as it could be is equall to such visits.
    It take a L o n g time. Very long time. It will never totally diminish ,but it will come less and less pronounced.

  4. Wow what a horroble words! I went there and wrote bad words for him. He has no right of saying no matter what just to have a point of view without knowing anything about Conductive Education!

  5. Time has moved on since Mr Lawrence posted his observations. So has their URL. You can find them now at:

    What seems not to have shifted is the right-thinking distaste for Conductive Education expressed on Ouch! Fast forward from winter 2008 to summer 2010...


    PS Norman: I have dealt with your formatting issue. I would love the time to go back and sort out allthe others from this period. Mybe I shall some day.

  6. PPS A word to רוני

    I am very aware of the enormous openness of CE in Israel to its wider community.

    I very much hope that the sort of attitudes displayed in these two pieces from Ouch! are today very much isolated examples of negativity and ignorance about CE here in the UK. I have no way of telling, one way or the other. Maybe if Ouch! succeeds in generating some knocking copy then this will shed some light.

    I do hope that CE services in the UK will have proved as successful in opening up to the world and drawing it in as seems to have been the case in Israel.



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