Friday, 1 February 2008

The struggle continues…*

What parents have to do

Our society is pleased to rejoice when our medical services snatch a baby from the jaws of death – and to fund the personnel, the training, the technology that make this possible. But what happens then? Society may prove less ready to rejoice at the possibility of making a real practical contribution to parenting and bringing up that child – and funding the means of achieving this.

The parents who love and care for that child may have struggle enough to keep their baby alive, never mind having to work out every day what to do for the best in practical situations for which thankfully most of us are altogether unprepared. Public authorities may offer ‘support’, whatever that means, but parents look for concrete know-how towards the often counter-intuitive task of how to teach and bring up this unfamiliar little child. Small wonder then that that Conductive Education, if they can find it, can appear an oasis in a desert.

For the lucky few who do find a conductor, however, the struggle may be only just beginning. Week by week, month by month, all around the developed world, 'new' families begin the hard struggle to gain access to conductive services.

It’s enough to have the often full-time job of bringing up a disabled child. It’s not as if this leaves much spare time or energy but parents may also have to become fundraisers and publicists, litigants and politicians.

Parents do what they can, in different ways according to their different circumstances. See as just one recent eample amongthe thousands the struggle that Andy and Sandra Ramsbottom are having to get their two-year-old daughter Isabella into Conductive Education, what they are up against from the state ‘education service’ and what they have achieved so far:

Salute the Ramsbottoms of Barnsley, and all those like them where ever they are, and the armies of family, friends and well-wishers who rally round them – that’s what ‘support’ really means, actually doing something…

They are all heroes of our sad, contradictory times.

* It’s easy enough to talk of the ‘conductive revolution’ but in some countries the struggle has been a very long one, with ‘support’ often experienced as deprivation and oppression, children growing into adults and the end yet to hove in sight.


  1. Andrew, the Star newspaper link does not seem to work. The problem seesm to be with number at the end - a missing fourth digit, the number '7'.

    Try this:

  2. Thanks Norman, very much obliged.

    Indeed all such helpful comments are very welcome...