Monday, 30 November 2009

Never forget spina bifida

There may still be time

Conductive Education is best known for its applications for the benefit of children with cerebral palsy, so much so that one often hears and sees words to the effect that it was particularly developed for such young people.

Nothing could be further from reality. Adults with cerebral palsy and other disabling conditions benefit, and of course children with other disabilities that may cause development to 'derail' or 'dislocate' (Vygotskii's concept).

One of these 'other' conditions is spina bifida.

A coincidence

I write this today because of one of those remarkable coincidences that forces things to the forefront of attention. Twice today I have run up against Conductive Education and spina bifida.

1. This morning, I happened upon the following all-too-brief account, published in English on the Pető Institute's website:

Pető Success at the Arm Wrestling World Cup and Hegyvidék Fit Parade

Beáta Pécsi

9 November 2009

Ákos Galyas finished third on 17 Oct 2009 at the Arm Wrestling World Cup where 180 contestants of 10 nations tested their strength. A day later, he took part in another competition called the Hegyvidék Fitt Parade and he finished fifth in weightlifting.

Ákos was born with spina bifida (“open” spine) and has been using a wheelchair since childhood. He received conductive education at the Pető Primary School where he first showed an interest in ball games. Then he tried various sports, wheelchair half marathon, disabled tennis, weightlifting and arm wrestling with much success. He is four times Hungarian arm wrestling champion and six times Hungarian weight lifting champion. He was chosen “the disabled sportsman of the year” in 2007. Now he is preparing for the 2012 London Paralympics as he has qualified to represent Hungary. He returned to the Pető Institute in February 2009 to stay in the Pető Apartment Hotel and work at its reception in the mornings. In the afternoons before going to trainings, he spends his time with the primary school children to set a positive example for disabled kids. Keep it up, Ákos!

The Pető Institute's website is none too user-friendly for English-speakers. To see the original, go to http://www.peto.hu/ and then click on the word ENGLISH towards the top-right of the page. There you will find this story, and a nice photograph of Ákos. This might prove useful when talking to parents and young people... even perhaps with professionals.

2. This afternoon Susie Mallett's Conductor site (www.susie-mallett.org) posted an item on spina bifida at the Pető Institute, from which I learned some interesting things:

  • there are no longer specialist spina bifida group at the Pető Institute
  • spina bifida children at the Pető Institute are no longer in spina bifida groups but are now incorporated into groups of children with cerebral palsy
  • a similar arrangement is followed at the Conductive Education Learning Centre in Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • there is now a spina bifida parents' blog, written by Andy and Leigh Gibbs (they receive their service at the CELC in Grand Rapids).

I am also reminded that there of a book in English, if you know where to look.

Carefully does it...

I do so hope there remains time to save enough of this specialism's essence for it to take new roots and grow – perhaps rather different in form – in new social and national contexts.

New, flexible and family-oriented modes of service delivery might make for considerable advances for spina bifida children and their families, as long as the approach can be treated seriously by the existing professional establishment in this sector. If this is to happen, then it may prove less than helpful to the cause to promulgate some of those tired old mantras that have long rung hollow in the field of CE and cerebral palsy. Parents deserve so much better than

Conductive Education is based on the theory that the central nervous system has the capacity to form new neural connections, despite neurological damage... the brain creates alternate paths to send messages to muscle groups, creating the desired movements'.

In spina bifida? Really? Think what this is saying about spinal lesion. There's a Nobel Prize or two waihing there for someone if that were true. There are better ways and more credible ways of articulating the practice, pedagogically and factually, than by bringing the scientific case down around our ears from the very start.

Notes/references

Today's posting on the Conductor site
http://www.susie-mallett.org/2009/11/new-blog-on-block.html

New parents' blog
http://ourlittlegibblet.blogspot.com/

Previous postings on spina bifida
http://www.conductive-world.info/2009/09/spina-bifida-and-conductive-education.html

BONKERS BRITAIN 2

Lunatics taking over asylum

I suspected that I might return to this theme. I just had not thought that this would be so soon!

Doughty, S. (2009) Home-schooling parents might face criminal records check, Daily Mail, 30 November

-- (2009) Parents see home schooling review as threat to rights, Lincolnshire Echo, 30 November

Spain: Valencia

Job vacancy for another conductor

In July Conductive World wrote of the 'lost world' of Conductive Education.

...the world of Conductive Education, has been guilty of rather ignoring what has been happening in Spain.

This weekend conductor Kornélia Borsós-Szabó writes...

FUVANE (Fundación de la Comunidad Valenciana para la Neurorehabilitación) Conductive Education Centre was established and opened on 23 April 2004 by fundraisers who were all parents with handicapped children:

They opened an institute for children who are suffering with cerebral palsy and live in the Valencia community.

At first the founders employed Spanish conductors who had qualified at the University of Navarra and in the Pető Institute. Because of the large numbers of children they also employed Hungarian conductors through Moira for short terms.

The centre is independent and now runs with five Spanish conductors, and three Hungarian conductor-teachers, one physiotherapist and one volunteer speech therapist. During the summer camps the centre also employs private and/or Moira conductors, because there are more children than during the rest of the year. The foundation is able to give conductive session for more than 200 children per year. Eight rooms with adapted bathrooms are available for carrying out sessions.

Fuvane provides free Conductive Education services for children up to the age of 18 years.

The centre offers morning (three or three-and-a-half hours), afternoon (three-and-a-half hours) and full-day groups (five-and-a-half:30 hours), for short term (one to three months) and long term (minimum one year). The services include parent-and-child groups, nursery-age groups, school-age groups, mobility groups and teenage groups. The sessions are designed to encourage development of physical independence, social and communication skills, as well as teaching life skills.

The parents with their children get to know the centre through an assessment. Then they have opportunity for individual consultations and parent meetings.

The centre has contracted a neurologist and an orthopaedist who evaluate the children at the beginning and the end of each month and consult with the conductors. Fuvane is trying to expand, that is why we are interested in multidisciplinary such as hydro- and hippotherapy, and to employ a speech therapist in the long long term.

For the future, the local government has offered to build a new building within two years! We would like the new building to include more rooms, a sensory room, a swimming pool and a garden with an adapted play ground.

Another conductor wanted

Fuvane Conductive Education Centre in Valencia is looking for a conductor to cover a maternity leave for a seven-month period, starting in January 2010. This conductor should be confident in both written and spoken English and either know Spanish or be willing to learn. For further information on this job write as soon as possible to:

Meanwhile in Pamplona...

In a week's time there will be a conference in Paris at which a presentation by Maria Belzunce might shed some light on developments in Pamplona: 'Principles of Pető’s method. Particular rules applied at ASPACE-NAVARRA'. (some introductory information on this was given in a previous item on Spain, in July).

Fuvane's website

Previous item on Spain

Sutton, A, (2009) Spain: a lost world. Time to rediscover it, Conductive World, 21 July

Conference in Paris

Andrásnap

Ma van a névnapom

Today is my name day, so my Hungarian friends tell me.

At least, it is the name day of people in Hungary called András (including you-know-who).

Of course, being English, and not of the Roman persuasion, I do not hold with such things (only the Queen has two birthdays!).

Egyébként, köszönöm szépen, barátaim!

Pető nap

The Pető Institute celebrated its annual two-day Pető nap ('Pető-day') on 27 and 28 November

Sunday, 29 November 2009

BONKERS BRITAIN

Quem deus vult perdere, dementat prius

Fearful officials jump gun on paranoid Government

To test the depth of the UK's latest moral panic, the uncritical bureaucratic terror in the face of the current folk devils, 'paedophiles', have a look at a news in this morning's print and broadcast media. This morning's Sunday Times offers one example. Read the headline, and weep:

Schools vet parents for Christmas festivities

Read the whole article, and despair:

The most appalling thing about all this is not that such pathetic, wimpish behaviour is possible from public servants, nor even that people feel that they have to put up with it, bad enough though both of these are. What is truly awful is the terrible, corrosive collateral damage that this does to the very fabric of bringing up children in this society. Yes of course this is just a 'symptom' of deeper malaise but one that may prove so powerfully experienced in itself, both individually and collectively, as to become a vicious, socially iatrogenic force in its own right.

What is reported today from Cambridgeshire and Norfolk cannot simply be laughed off as a ho-ho story from a couple of East Anglian Hicksvilles. However appropriate the harsh judgement of public ridicule in specific instances, by next year the new 'vetting and barring' regulations will mean that such sad goings-on may no longer be the exception, but the rule.

What a country into which to try and introduce the humane, emotions-based, transactional and discretionary pedagogy essential to Conductive Education!

The reported comment from sociologist Frank Furedi says:l:

Once you institutionalise mistrust, you incite people to take these things further and further, finding new areas to implement criminal record checks.

It becomes a badge of responsibility and a symbolic ritual. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t make sense.

It certainly does not make sense. But it does matter. It erodes civil liberties, it devalues the personal autonomy of citizens and inflates the authority of an already overweening state bureaucracy, it undermines democratic parenting, and it costs the country money that , if it had it, would be far better spent on something useful.

References


Foggo, D., Grimston, J. (2009) Schools vet parents for Christmas festivities, Sunday Times, 29 November
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article6936351.ece

Sutton, A. (2009) URGENT: UNITED KINGDOM, Conductive World, 25 November
http://www.conductive-world.info/2009/11/urgent-united-kingdom.html

Cerebral palsy and children's drawing

Rara avis from Pető Institute

But rarely does one come across a published journal article from the Pető Institute in Budapest, and one appearing in an educational journal, English, and open-access, on-line, may indeed be unique.

This article by Júlia Horváth was published earlier this year, but I have only just stumbled across it.

Horváth, J. (2009) Some thoughts about visual education in the kindergarten of cerebral palsied children, Practice and Theory in Systems of Education, vol. 4, no 2, pp. 79-98

Manipulative activities and graphomotor development of cerebral paretic children is a central issue in the methodology of Conductive Education (CE) The motor disabled children's drawing development is hindered by some reasons. Earlier research examined the special characteristic of drawing development in the case of hemiplegia. It points out current realities and suggests future possibilities for investigations in this field. This paper describes the symptom-specific features of drawing in kindergarten age disabled children., and the effects which are influenced the development of drawing. The motor disabled children's drawing may give us information about the general developmental process of the child. Nevertheless one has to be careful in the interpretation of drawing as other factors such as environment, emotions, past experiences and the feelings they evoke will affect the representative quality of the drawing. Therefore more than one drawing may be needed to obtain a better understanding of the child. The articles are planned to continue with special developmental programs and ideas to teachers and nursery teachers who are working with cerebral palsied children.

The above summary is published on the journal's website:

Click on this article's page numbers that you find there, 79-98, to bring up the the full article.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Hemihelp

CE in forthcoming awareness day for educationalists

In the recent posting on Cerebra's Cardiff conference it was suggested that the vacuum left by Scope's shift of focus to 'rights' is increasingly filled now by emerging charities. One of these is Cerebra. Another is Hemihelp.

Among its early activities, early next year Hemihelp is running a one-day awareness event:

Conference for education professionals
Birmingham and Midland Institute
£120 (non-members), £90 (members of Hemihelp)
Location not yet announced

All education professionals working with children with hemiplegia are welcome at this conference. It will be particularly relevant to SENCOs, special needs advisers and educational psychologists. Themes will include dealing with emotional and behavioural problems, literacy, technology and Conductive Education.

Seven topics will be covered over the course of the day,.including the following:

Conductive Education – improving movement
Wendy Baker, Director of Children's Services
Foundation for Conductive Education

Notes and reference

Cerebra
http://www.cerebra.org.uk/
Sutton, A. (2009) To Cardiff, Conductive World, 29 October
http://www.conductive-world.info/2009/10/to-cardiff.html
(on Cerebra's recent Annual Conference)

Friday, 27 November 2009

A little more on that TV report

Thanks to Klára Andrea Bartucz

You can see the final repeat of this programme tomorrow, Saturday, at 1605, Central European Time:

Thanks to Nóra Szentirmai for this link.

I had wrotten the previous posting in haste to catch this afternoon's broadcast. I had no time to acknowledge the source of my information for this. I am pleased to do so now that I have opportunity.

It came from the Facebook page of conductor Klára Andrea Bartucz:

Klára also provided a link to the programme, some of the text of which she quoted on Facebook:

The TV company's write-up tells that this item is part of an acclaimed series on Hungary's creative cultural heritage (Hungaricum) that the country is proud to proclaim to the world Inter alia, it says ,viewers may expect gingerbread and the moon-walker. Then it announces this week's programme as follows:

Kik azok a konduktorok, és miként gyógyítják a gyógyíthatatlannak vélt agyi sérüléseket? Milyen ember volt Pető András, és mit csinált tragikus sorsú Diana hercegnő a Kútvölgyi úton? Hogyan működik és mitől világhírű a Pető módszer? Bemutatjuk Magyarország első szellemi hungarikumát!

In English...

Who are those conductors and what is it that is healed in supposedly incurable cerebral injuries? What kind of man was András Pető, and what did the tragically fated Princess Diana do on Kútvölgyi Road? How does it work and what does the world-famous Pető method come from? We introduce Hungary's first intellectual Hungarikum!

Klára comments on this

Csak, tisztázzuk, mi nem "gyógyítunk", hanem fejlesztünk! Van különbség akettő között, szerintem ilyet senki nem is nyilatkozott, szóval, hhonnan vehették ezt? Kicsit erős a kifejezés, de persze a felhajtás,meg a nagy szavak kellenek...

Just to clear things up, we do not 'heal', we develop! Is there a difference between the two? I think that nobody made the declaration of where this comes from. A bit strongly expressed but, what with all the fuss, of course big words are needed. That's putting it a bit strongly but what with all the razzmatazz, of course big words are necessary...

I think that I have got that about right.

If I have, well said Klára!

Three quick explanations

No 67 Kútvölgyi út is the address of one of the Pető Institute's two buildings.

Klára has used the Hungarian verb meaning 'develop' transitively (you can in English too but people so rarely do in this sort of context!)

The Hungaricum Club is a commercial construct, a brand, for marketing Hungarian products in Europe (though it now seems, as in the TV company's blurb above, to have aquired more general meaning, implying something that Hungarians are very proud.) The Hungaricum Club includes two non-commercial organiations, the Kodály Institute and the Pető Institute. One cannot think of anything more Hungarian that Kodály's musicology. The relative 'Hungarianness' of András Pető, however, in relation to the Jewish-Liberal-German ideas that his work stemmed from, and the Soviet-structured psycho-pedagogical sytem that Mária Hári made of it, would be an interesting matter for public and academic debate in Hungary. The tone of the TV company's blurb suggests that in 2009 Hungary may be still not ready for critical examination of such an unquesionably 'Hungarian' hero:

Conductive Education on Hungarian TV

What is being said?

If you are able to see the Hungarian news channel Hir TV you might like to look out tonight (1805 CET, very soon now!) or tomorrow afternoon (1605) for a report on Conductive Education at the Peto Institute. It was shown on Sunday evening too.

Sorry, I have no further details but I am sure that I am not the only one who would like to have a critical account of what is being said about this work on Hungarian television in 2009.

If you can catch this report, do please share what you see and here, and what you think about it, in either English or Hungarian:

Report on Hír TV

Tonight and tomorrow

If you are able to see the Hungarian news channel TV you might like to look out tonight (1805, very soon now!) or tomorrow (1605) for a report on Conductive Education at the Pető Institute. It was shown on Sunday evening too.

Sorry, I have no further details but I am sure that I am not the only one who would like to have a critical account of what is being said about this work on Hungarian television in 2009.

If you can catch this report, do please share what you see and here, and what you think about it, in either English or Hungarian:

conductive.world@gmail.com

Thursday, 26 November 2009

A tiny bit of help for the French

Tax concession boosts much-needed donations

The CE-blog À petit pas has announced that, since 1 October, motor-disordered children have been recognised by the French tax authority as being 'of general interest'.

This means that for every €100 euros directed to organisations such as À petit pas, donors will be able to recuperate €60 euros in the form of tax credit.

The cost of CE in France (where it is of course EC) is born entirely by families and through fundraising. Notwithstanding, there is now a scattering of tiny family-founded projects securing with remarkable frugality the services of conductors. À petit pas is one of those that blogs, see left-hand column of this page.

– (2009) EHM reconnue d'intérêt générale!! À petit pas, 25 November

By the way, I have just noticed that my computer has no symbol that I can find for €. It does however provide ¥. Could it be trying to tell me something?

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

URGENT: UNITED KINGDOM

The Independent Safeguarding Authority

VETTING AND BARRING SCHEME

IGNORE THIS AT YOUR PERIL

If you are in any way connected with the practice of Conductive Education in the United Kingdom, this applies to YOU

Please pass this information on to anyone who might need to know this *.

Ignore this information and you could be taken to court, fined, or even put in prison. You will also gain a criminal record.

The following official announcement applies specifically to England, Wales and Northern Ireland There are parallel regulations being put in force in Scotland. I leave them to you to find these out of you need them.

The following quick summary of these new regulation may have missed out points that apply to YOU.

Do not rely upon what you read here. You owe it to yourself to check personally on the website given at the end of this posting. Even if you think that everything is OK for you according to current regulations, still check to see whether there is anything else needing to be covered.

These new regulations will come into force in November 2010.

'Vetting and barring' by the Independent Safeguarding Authority

The new regulations involve a police check (that is a check of criminal records, for any kind of offence) for everyone who will have have contact with children and 'vulnerable adults' in the United Kingdom after November 2010.

These regulations will apply to all non-family members, whatever activity brings them into contact with children and vulnerable adults:
  • all professional staff of services
  • all other staff of services (administrative, cleaning, cooking, caretaking, fundraising, everyone)
  • all volunteers
  • all parents, carers or other relatives coming into 'help' (parent-and-child services are in my view a 'grey area' but it might avoid argument if you include them)
  • all studenst on practice placements
  • everybody who has regular or intensive contact.

Regular contact means once a month or more, intensive means three or more times in one week, or overnight. Visitors are exempt.

Failure to register, or employing anyone who is not registered, will be a criminal offence. Both the individual and the employer will be liable to prosecution and if found guilty to a fine of imprisonment. Ignorance of the regulations will not be a defence in court.

Do not regard this quick summary as enough. I no longer have the need to read all this in detail and therefore have no intention of subjecting myself to it. If you, however, have the slightest suspicion that any of this might apply to you, then check what I say from the website given below, and act as directed.

Do not just put this information aside to deal with later. Registration will be open in July 2010.

Go to the website given below find out how and when to register.

Don't forget. You will have to be 'vetted' before you start work. The Authority says that 'vetting' will take no more than seven days, after which (it is promised) individuals will receive a registration number to show that they are clean.

Well-run centres will already know all his this information but, believe it or not, there may be CE services in the United Kingdom that do not. If you or yours attend any centre or service, then it will do no harm to enquire whether it is compliant with these regulations. Be you service-user, employeed or conductor, you will not wish your service put at risk for failing to take any of this into account).

Private employment arrangements are also included, tutors, au pairs, nannies, even 'exchange visits', and of course private conductors (whether the latter offer their services in their own premises or the family's own home).

Remember, this is not just a matter of work with children. It includes all work with 'vulnerable adults'.

The cost of applying to register will be £64.00.

What about Conductive Education?

These new regulation will apply to everyone who has contact with children and 'vulnerable adults'.

To emphasis this more strongly, these new regulations will apply to everyone who has contact with anyone who might benefit from Conductive Eduction.

Conductors will not be excepted, whatever their nationality.

  • Any individual, family or orgnisation in the United Kingdom intending to employ a conductor to work with children or 'vulnerable adults' MUST ensure that the conductor is registered before starting work. Not to do so will be a criminal offence.
  • Any conductor intending to work with children or 'vulnerable adults' in the United Kingdom must be registered before starting work. To do such work without sucessfully registering will be a criminal offence.

Ignorance of the regulations will not be a defence in court.

Conductive Education throws up a special circumstance in that most of the conductors professionally active in the United Kingdom (perhaps around a hundred or so) are not British citizens and many of them, especially when they apply for jobs in the UK, are not even resident in the country:

  • Conductors already working in the United Kingdom in established organisations will be able to check with their employers that everyting is already in order.
  • Those in less established organisationshould make doubly sure.
  • Short-term, sessional, weekend and 'informal' arrangments will also require registration. So will 'camps', holiday schemes, after-school arangements etc. Check that you and your work will be 'legal'.
  • Most especially, everyone involved in 'private' arrangements to employ conductors, full-time in the home or by whatever form of visting arrangement, should read these regultins very carefully indeed. They apply to you too.

These regulations may not be easy to understand, even for native English-speakers. If you have any doubts, get someone to go through them with you. Remember, it is the intention of these regulations not to let anybody escape 'vetting'. Do not waste your time, and maybe end up un court, by trying to think of a way in which these regultions will not apply to YOU. They do!

Just accept it as a fact of life in the United Kingdom from November 2010 that will be NO EXCEPTIONS, and that all conductors will have to have a registered number before they can work with children or 'vulnerable adults'. This will no doubt cause difficulties in particular situations. These will just have to be overcome.

All these regulations will apply equally to families employing or engaging conductors on a private basis and to conductors in any sort of private practice, you will be breaking the law if you do not follow these regulations, the police will be involved,you will go to court, you may be fined or go to prison, and you will receive a criminal record.

If you are reading this from outside the United Kingdom...

Even if you are a foreigner to the United Kingdom, it will not be a defence in court to say that you did not know that you would have to register before you could work with children and 'vulnerable adults'. Nor will it help to say that you did not understand the form.

If you know of any conductors intending to work in the United Kingdom after November 2010, pass this information on to them. They should have no problem if they take two simple steps:

  • Get the form
  • Get your future employerto help you to fill it it and submit it.

Of course, there is nothing to stop you comig to the United Kingdom anyway and seeking to register when you are here, whether you have a definite job in mind or not, just as long as you do not work with children or 'vulnerable adults', in any capacity, in the meantime.

If this all adds yet another layer of problem to conductor-recruitment and retention in the United Kingdom, then so be it.

All this costs...

Someone will have to find the cost of registering. Presumably whether this is paid by the conductor or the employer will be subject to individul negotiation (though once a conductor has been registered for one job, has been found to be clean and receives a number, there will be no need to register again).

I have no way of knowing whether all this business will 'save' a single child (nor does anyone else). The Government calculates that the whole scheme is like to take in 11.3 million adults (out of a total population (including children!) of some 60 million. Presumably the Government has figures for how much this will all cost, too.

Nor can one estimate the collateral social costs of this stentorian measure. That will be for future historians to decide. In the meantime, it is already forecast that a host of long-established social activities will be going to the wall.

The Government reckons that this will be the most comprehensive such system in the world. I am sure that this is right. What you think of all this is up to you but. if you are in any way affected by the above, as conductor, conductor-employer or service-user, then you will have no choice but to comply with it.

Please do not address your questions to me. I hope that Conductive World will have no reason to return to this matter. Go to this website for all further information:

http://www.isa-gov.org.uk/default.aspx?page=0

If for any reason you do nor understand this posting or, more importantly, this website, then TAKE ADVICE. I also believe that there are courses that you can go on. More cost...

_________________

* Either print this page or pass on its web address:

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Australia to clean up its act

Prime Minister's pledge on disability

Why, people have asked over the years, has Conductive Education done so well in New Zealand – and, just across the Tasman Sea, so badly in Australia. They are both former Dominions, speak much the same way (believe it or not down there, that's how it sounds to most of us), they are both at the Antipodes – Anzacs all.

Parents in both countries woke up early to the promise of Conductive Education, in the nineteen-eighties, Australia in fact a few years ahead of the Nzers, and in both countries parents organised and set out boldly to get CE established. The Kiwis have done just what we would expect with Conductive Education. It's small, it's quiet, and it's there. So what has been the problem in Australia?

The problem of course is that Conductive Education, like any social sub-system, in any country, is not some stand-alone ideal (that goes for its situation in Hungary too). It is not immune to the pluses and minuses of the cultural, financial and social systems in which it is of necessity embedded. Some exceptional specific achievements excepted, the history of Conductive Education in Australia has been a bitter disappointment. No wonder, it has been embedded in systems of services for the disabled and their families that are awful.

Don't take my word for it. Ask Kevin Rudd, the Prime Minister of Australia.

The following extracts are from a speech that Mr Rudd made last week, on 23 November, to the National Disability Awards Ceremony, in the Great Hall of Parliament House in Canberra.

...There are many statistics that inform us about the condition of people living with disability across Australia. But they only tell one part of the story... the personal tragedies behind the statistics tell a damning tale. The kids left in respite because their parents are just too exhausted to cope. People left without the basic services and equipment they need to get out of bed in the morning. People denied the chance to work and study or take advantage of opportunities for a better life. Discriminated against, shut out and isolated because of the attitudes of others and the inadequacy of support available.

For far too long, people with disability in this country have had to battle for the right to live their life to its full potential. For far too long, people with disability have had to battle a service system that simply isn't up to meeting their complex needs.

The Australian Government is determined to work with you to make sure people with disability have the opportunity to be involved in their communities, to where possible have a job and to have a life that is meaningful and worthwhile. After years of neglect, there is a lot of catching up to do...

How we care for people with a disability is a fundamental matter that goes to our values and our character as a nation. But it is also a matter of responsible economic management....

The Australian Government believes that we need to rethink how we support people with disability and identify what new approaches are needed. We need a system that provides greater incentives for early intervention and incentives to help people with disability participate in work and the community. A system that provides some certainty for people with a disability and their families, no matter where they live, and how they acquired their disability. A system that is not based on rationed services, and is not crisis-driven.

We know this is what people with disability want and it's also the most cost-effective and efficient solution. One idea that has united disability consumer and advocacy groups, the disability service sector and carer organisations, is a national long-term care and support scheme for people with disability... It has come up again and again in consultations all across the country ...A long-term care and support scheme would look at an individual's needs, across their whole lifetime, and determine what support is needed and when...

It would require transformative change to the disability service system - how it is delivered, funded and administered.

But it could help us achieve a clear, overriding objective of the Australian Government - building a fairer Australia, with the goal that all Australians can reach their full potential in life. It requires detailed and considered examination to see if it the outcomes it promises can be delivered.

But we believe now is the time to examine this option in detail.

That's why I am pleased to announce today that the Australian Government will engage the Productivity Commission to carry out an Inquiry into a National Long-term Care and Support Scheme. Starting early next year, the Commission will look into the costs, benefits and feasibility of approaches which provide essential care and support - on an entitlement basis - for eligible people with a severe or profound disability...

Reform in this area is not something that can be undertaken lightly. Some people live with disability from birth. Others have their lives forever changed in an instant as a result of a traumatic event...

This feasibility study will look at how long-term care and support can be provided to all people with a disability, including those who acquire it as a result of a traumatic event...

Thousands of people across Australia responded to our consultations on the National Disability Strategy. At these consultations, people with disabilities, their families, friends and carers gave us a clear message. They want Australia to change. They want an inclusive Australia. An enabling Australia. An Australia that treats them equally and gives them opportunities to fulfil their potential.

The Strategy will drive improvements in performance across Commonwealth, and state and territory governments. Not only in disability systems but, importantly, mainstream systems where it is vital that we improve our responses in areas such as education, transport, housing, health, communications and human rights...

There is more. For the entire speech see:

This is not an apology as such (like the Aboriginal peoples and the child migrants won) but it does look like an admission of how awful things have been, and acceptance of responsibility now to get something done about it.

So, times look like they may be achanging in Australia. Opportunity is now ripe, therefore, for Conductive Education to start a new chapter in that country, with new positions to meet this promised new dawn.

By the way, the UK Prime Minister and the British media just loved Mr Rudd's apology to the child migrants. There is no sign of Mr Brown's and the media's having picked up on this latest mea culpa of Mr Rudd's What a surprise.

Three recent 'Australian' postings

Monday, 23 November 2009

The expanding universe of the CE blogosphere

Updated listing, for the time being

Two of these 20 blogs come from a single source, all the others being their writers' only blogs. There are currently therefore 19 CE bloggers.

Two of these 20 have in the past ceased publication, then subsequently came back on line. A couple of others have vanished altogether and have not been considered further.

Providers

One of the 20 is incorporated within a wider site. Te remaining 19 are stand-alone blogs, provided as follows:
  • blogger 16 (including four that have assumed own-domain identities)
  • canalblog 1
  • over-blog 1
  • typepad 1

Mention ought also be made of two other site blogs, both very new and neither as yet functioning as a blog:

http://conductiveeducation.net/blog/
http://www.ce-congress2010.org/CE_eng_v2/modules/tinyd8/index.php?id=4/

There are possibly other site blogs, not identified here, buried in the sites of CE centers. Information about any of these that are active would be most welcome.

Languages

Of these 20 blogs 19 are monoglot. One is bilingual, being published predominantly in English but with some of its postings in Hungarian. The 19 monoglot blogs are published in four languages:

  • English 13
  • French 4
  • Hungarian 1
  • Portuguese 1

Authors

These 20 blogs have 19 authors. In one case authorship is corporate, in the remaining 18 the blogs are witten by individuals:

  • parents of children with motor disorders 8
  • conductors 8
  • other individuals 2
  • national association 1

The parent-bloggers

All the parent bloggers are active in creating or planning to creat CE services

The other individuals

Both retired, British, living in England 2

The National Association

In France

Conductor-bloggers, by nationality, training and present location

  • American, trained at Aquinas, working in US 1
  • British, trained at NICE, working in Brazil 1
  • British, trained at NICE, working in England 2
  • British, trained at the Pető Institute, working in Germany 1
  • Hungarian, trained at the Pető Institute, working in England 2
  • Hungarian, trained at the Pető Institute, working in Hungary 1

Listing CE blogs on Conductive World

For the time being all 20 blogs identified above will continue to be posted automatically in the left-hand column of Conductive World, as soon as they appear (at least, as soon as Google can manage it), under the heading CE BLOGOSPHERE

A simple summary listing (URLs only) will also be maintained:

http://www.conductive-world.com/.

Criterion for inclusion

This question has yet to be satisfactorily resolved. For the moment inclusion will continue under the single, subjectively applid criterion that include all blogs that predominantly concern 'Conductive Education'. Blogs for which CE is not the predeonient purpose are not included.

The growing numbers of CE blogs requires a classificatory tool – and perhaps help to suggest what this might be!

Find your own

You will find alarger number of blogs that make passing reference to Conductive Education by searching thtrough Google blogs:

http://blogsearch.google.co.uk/?hl=en&tab=wb

Note that Google Blogs can seach in languages other than English.

Two recent postings on CE-blogs

Sutton, A. (2009) The expanding universe of the CE blogosphere, Conductive World, 23 November
http://www.conductive-world.info/2009/11/expanding-universe-of-ce-blogosphere.html

Sutton, A. (2009) CE-blogging, Conductive World, 22 November
http://www.conductive-world.info/2009/11/ce-blogging.html

Sunday, 22 November 2009

CE-blogging

Something of what's out there

Thanks to a helpful comment from Norman Perrin I realised that my first quick snatch at delineating a Conductive Education blogosphere fell far short of complete. An appeal for people to submit what they knew drew the anticipated blank but Norman's comment and my own subsequent (very quick) search of Google Blogs reminds me that there are far more heavens out there than exist in my philosophy!

Plenitude brings its own problems. Here are two:
  • The question of what is and what is not a 'CE blog'. This will need further examination in its own right.
  • Rather easier to answer is the question of blogging in languages other than English. For no reason other than a slip of the pen (actually a mistype, a typo), I started out by looking in Swedish, and came up with immediate gold.

I found the blog of Lars Mullback

For years now, Lars has been a bit of a hero of mine, albeit a distant, mythic one. I have never met him, nor even discussed him with anyone who has, and I have no way of knowing whether he is indeed a prophet in his own land (a sour, grudging, hacked-about Wikipedia article, obviously Swedish-authored, would have it otherwise!). Still, heroes have a higher-order human function that mere facts! Conductive Education, for all its international spread, is a remarkably parochial phenomenon, isolated by country, by language or even just by clique, so I have no great expectations that many of those who read these words may have even heard of him. Hero or otherwise, Conductive Education does not know its own. Paradoxically, despite the real heroism of so many who have struggled for Conductive Education during both the Hungarian and international phases of its development Conductive Education has remarkably few known, shared heroes

A few weeks ago, I have just found, Lars started a blog. This graphically illustrates the two problems of identifying and delineating CE-blogs that I mentioned above, when is a blog a CE blog and what about blogs in other languages.

First, it covers a range of interests of which konduktiv pedagogik (you may see the origin of my typo*) is but one. And it's in Swedish.

Documenting and analysing Conductive Education's place in the world of blogs and bloggers would be a huge task, well suited to a PhD study. I don't need it. But it is worth pausing here to note a few things that Lars wrote in a lengthy posting from a couple of weeks back, and wonder what to make of them:

Perhaps it may seem naïve. I thought that I would be received with open arms when I came back from Hungary and spoke about how I had learned to eat and shower and dress myself, thanks to an alternative (complementary) therapy called conductive pedagogy...

In my naivety I hoped that the multidisciplinary treatment would be happy to get one more tool to help their patients to a better and richer life.... several doctors questioned my credibility and called me a liar, among other things...

It shocked me. At first I thought that it was because the staff were more important than the patients, then I tried the fear-of-change explanatory model, reluctance to innovate and, in dark moments, I thought it was due to pure evil and despotism.

It certainly sounds presumptuous but we helped thousands of Swedish cp-injured children to a better life, with greater mobility and increased self-confidence. When no, actually, no, those who evaluated pedagogy said that I exaggerated or misled them. When most people had paid for the service themselves, often several 100 thousand even though they may receive rehabilitation services free of charge. Then sometimes despair and the belief that society is impossible to change. But it is not.

I met with Nobel Laureate Arvid Carlsson. He said the opposite.

It is very common within the scientific community that the establishment is against and distrusts everything new.

That was his own experience... To my delight was Arvid Carlsson's interest in Conductive Education, the method that I helped to take to Sweden. Unlike paediatric rehabilitation doctors his believe is that it is obvious that the method works...

(continues...)

No, I can't speak Swedish but this is the twenty-first century and I am sitting in front of a computer so I can grasp the gist. All that I had to do was go to Google Translate (any similar sites would have done), rely on the proximity of our two languages, boosted by the sheer familiarity of what he was saying, to bridge some of the linguistic gaps, thinking the while of all those black-and-white Ingmar Bergman films of my youth (or more cheerily, perhaps) the Swedish Chef in Sesame Street.

Towards common fronts?

What did I learn for my pains? At one level, not a lot. But at another level comes the reminder that the struggle for Conductive Education is a world war, in which the thinly spread Conductivist side fights simultaneously on so many fronts, hopelessly defending particular local or other special interests against sometimes terrible odds. It is hardly surprising therefore to see different blogs reporting similar situations and analogous formulations of what is going on. In Lars's specific instance it is strangely comforting to read just how recognisable these are, even in the supposed welfarist paradise of Sweden!

The first point that I raised at the start of this posting involved languages. I hope that I have shown that this need not present and insuperable problem in the twenty-first century. True, where languages face each other across linguistic voids, the results of machine-translation become less and less satisfying., Try machine-translating from Hungarian into... anything! The implications of this point will be returned to in a future posting.

The second point is harder. What is a 'CE-blog'? Quick answer: one that relates exclusively to Conductive Education. Authors have a variety of interests and the very nature of blogging means that they are free to stray into any of them, and do. And Conductive Education anyway intersects with so many other plains of interest. Take just one of these, disabilities, and find very vigorous worlds of blogs and forums, in which outspoken free speech flourishes in ways somewhat outside the general CE tradition! The implications of this point, that the notion of a 'CE-blog' is a false catagory, and an inhibiting one at that, will also be returned to in a future posting.

So will Lars.

Notes and references

Mullback, L. (2009) Varför politik – del 2, behov av eller motstånd till förändring. 5 November
http://mullback.wordpress.com/2009/11/05/091106-varfor-politik-%e2%80%93-del-2-behov-eller-motstand-till-forandring/

Lars Mulback, Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lars_Mullback

Google Blogs
http://blogsearch.google.co.uk/?hl=en&tab=wb

Google Translate
http://translate.google.co.uk/?hl=en&tab=bT#

Swedish Chef
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S1vywaIbQGY&NR=1

* I had intended searching Google Blogs for konduktiv pedagógia (Hungarian). Instead I mistyped one letter, searching instead for konduktiv pedagogik (Swedish). In the event, a lucky slip!

Saturday, 21 November 2009

CHINA

A reminder, a reprise and a reflection

Turn on the radio or the television, pick up a newspaper or a news magazine, and what do you read?

China.

Unstoppably booming economy, emerging world power, political and cultural confidence, etc., etc. An optimistic, determined and effective can-do approach to problems, of a kind not met universally nowadays in the West. And the contribution to all this of Chinese family structure, upbringing and attitudes towards education.

By 'China' here I mean not just the Chinese People's Republic ('the Mainland') but also Hong Kong SER, Taiwan, Singapore, and indeed the whole vast worldwide diaspora of Chinese residents overseas.

In just over a year's time Conductive Education will be showcasing in Hong Kong.

What does this mean over there, 'Conductive Education'? Who knows?

A recent reminder

Earlier this week, the Shanghai Daily published a heartening feature by Cushla Norman on the CereCare Wellness Center for Children, and its founder Lu Shunling. Lu herself has cerebral palsy. She devised her own approach to this. Then, drawing from traditional Chinese medicine and upon family resources, she and her younger sister, Iris Lieu, opened their own treatment centre, in which she combines her own approach with Conductive Education.
Lieu says CereCare is the only place in the world which combines her sister's acupressure and Conductive Education.
Conductive Education, which is done in a group, combines physical exercise with learning. Children learn about directions and colors as they are asked to stretch out their right hand to pick a purple flower, for example. Lieu says this method keeps class interesting for the children and takes their mind off any pain.
On Sunday the center turned six years old and waved off four of its graduates, celebrating the day with a party and fund-raising bazaar.
To graduate means [children] can now go to the toilet by themselves or they have turned seven years old  the school's cut-off point.
In China as everywhere else, this all costs money.

Lieu's dream is to raise enough money to expand the CereCare center and build a barrier-free school, for children from one to 18 years old.... but the fact is CP care is so expensive - 36,000 yuan (US$ 5,273) per child a year  that the final amount raised will probably cover three children's treatment for a year.

Sounds familiar enough, but is it? It is not the combination with acupressure that marks it as unfamiliar (indeed a good proportion of described Chinese Conductive Education programs seem to combine CE with something). The big question relates to the actual nature of the Conductive Education included in this mix. Where did it come from?What does it comprise?

A quick catch-up

For those who missed them first time round here are links to a few previous postings on matters Chinese, from earlier this year. It is hardly cononical but what else is there to start off on?

There are others.

What is actually done? It is to be hoped that the World Congress in Hong Kong to be held this December will cast light on this question (rather more that the World Congress held in Japan did to shed light on what has happened to CE in that country).

Where are we headed?

The title for the 7th World Conductive Education Congress to be held in December 2010 is 'East meets West: Adaptation and Development'. The tentative programme for the plenary sessions has now been announced. The first listed will be 'China's experiences of Conductive Education'. The concluding one will be 'Conductive Education in the 21st century'

Two features of Chinese history are its extraordinary duration and continuity. With virtually no account in the West of what might be happening with Conductive Education in China, the processes of adaptation and development appear already well established.

Perhaps a straw in the wind is that today, 21 November, is the final day of a two-week study tour of China for physiotherapists, to 'learn of acupuncture, massage, meditation and Conductive Education'. What will they have learned?

The balance of world power is changing in all sorts of ways, faster and further than one might have thought possible. Conductive Education is hardly notable for standing out against social and economic trends. The coming year will be an interesting one indeed when seen from the perspective of next December.

Reference

Norman, C. (2009) Sisters' dream school offers hope to cerebral palsy kids, Shanghai Daily, 18 November


第七届世界引导式教育会议

Seventh World Congress coming into view


It is just a little more than a year now till the 7th World Congress on Conductive Education, to be held in Hong Kong at the beginning of December 2010. SAHK, the host organisation, has just published a new and upgraded English-language congress website:

Abstracts

The 'call for abstracts' gives considerable structured help for submission, particularly important at this Congress as SAHK is undertaking to post all accepted abstracts on line following the Congress, for all the world to see.

The thoughts of Conductive Education will be open to the critical scrutiny of the academic/professional community, and to the just-as-critical questioning of would-be users/buyers of its services.
SAHK is not so unmannerly as to say so but all this implies that authors will have to be ready with a proper written paper to supply to anyone who then writes in to request one, as is appropriate behaviour for participants in international conferences ('spoken to' Powerpoint slides do not suffice).

Supporting organisations

A list of the Congress's 'Supporting organisations' makes for interesting reading. Those considering the future of Conductive Education, perhaps conductors particularly, might be interested to see how a whole new world of Conductive Education is developing without employing conductors.

Congress blog

The page is there but not yet working.

Lots already done. Over to you

SAHK has produced a comprehensive website for the Congress, containing much more information that summarised above. Now is the time for would-be presenters to get their skates on, find the money to go, and work out what they are going to say if they do (final submission date: 30 April).

It is fair to guess, however, that for the immediate future most folk will be increasingly caught up with Christmas and the New Year, with little attention left to preparing for conference-going. That leaves some four months to get everything sorted.

Good luck...

Congress website (English)

Friday, 20 November 2009

How it is

Not easy

Three days ago I received a characteristically upbeat email from conductor Ágnes Pálinkás:

A quick note from London:

Saturday November 14th, in the Guardian (page 4), there was whole-page photo and a full-page article about a young family with their daughter May.

The little girl's mum has a blog: www.mamalewis.wordpress.com

They have joined 'Small Step School for Parents' that shares a building with Greenmead School [where Ági works]...
Anyhow, [the school] received the following letter on November 13th. I don't know if you want to use it or not, but it is always nice to read letters like this.

This is what May's mother, Stacie, had written.

Dear Small Steps,

Please, please,please let my daughter join your amazing, special school.

Our Tiny Step session yesterday was awesome. I loved the atmosphere of your school – how demanding you were of the children (and I mean that in the most positive ways) while at the same time how much fun May had. She smiled and laughed her way through activities
and stretches that, at home, I struggle to get her to do at all.

Your approach, that every single action of play should improve the physical and cognitive abilities of the children, is wonderful. I understand now why spaces is your school are in such demand.

Please, please, please. Look, I'm begging. I have no shame.

Thank you,

Mama Lewis

That's what it's all about and, as usual, it is a parent who puts it best.

Not how it should be

When I received Agi's email, and Stacie's subsequent permission to quote from it, I intended to write a very short article called 'How it should be'. Just for a while, I wotld have written, perhaps, after the terrible storms of the first couple of years that society can serve up to parents who have a baby with cerebral palsy, a family felt itself safe in a calm harbour, able to focus on enjoying bringing up their little daughter. Given the awful established structures of our society (hardly unique to the UK!), that's about the best that a family can exerience of CE in the great majority of instances, a revivifying respite before battling their way again through the storms.

Time marches on so quickly in a little life. I had first heard about this from Ági on Tuesday 17 November. I asked her to get the family's permission for me to write about them, and she replied to me this lunchtime, Friday, to tell me that this permission has been given.

I have just sat down to write this article, pleased to be reporting something cheering, a reminder of what Conductive Education is all about, why parents struggle to achieve it, what it does for everyone involved.

So I hunted back on line through the Guardian newspaper, and found Stacie Lewis's article from last Saturday, that Ági had mentioned., So far, so good.

Then I looked up Stacie's blog. This week has seen one of the usual small, invigorating victories and one of the screaming frustrations with 'services' so familiar to many readers of Conductive World, wherever they are.

Then this morning's posting:

Small Steps contacted me to say that they don’t have a place for May...

Until I received the email, I don’t think I realized how much I’d pinned my hopes on a place.

Sometimes May’s care, regardless of the professionalism of the experts, seems so haphazard. I see someone one week and then not again for three or four weeks. I do everything they ask, but do I do it effectively, long enough, frequently enough, in the correct alignment?

I never know. I can’t know. How can I keep track of everything? It is a lot of pressure to feel that I am by far the greatest influence over whether my daughter maximizes her potential.

Once a week, to surround myself with other mothers like myself, in that kind of instructive setting, would have done me as much good as May.

What can you say, what can you do? I had hoped that May's story would exemplify how it things should be, not how they so often are.

Try Dina

All that I can think to say that is practical is that Stacie should get herself a copy of Dina, read it, and form her own views on what it suggests for mother and baby at home. Then take advantage of the local presence of Ági and, I believe, two conductors at Tiny Steps, to ride shotgun on her establishing conductive upbringing in the place where it really matters, in the family

It is a quirky little book but it is surely more use that the daft 'government guidelines' that Stacie reported on in her blog yesterday. Such a pity that Dina and the approach that it advocates are not much more widely promulgated by conductors and others around the world.

The book is not exactly a safe harbour, but at least something that many parents have found to be something to navigate by, and therefore a source of strength over the years.

Notes and references

One Small Step School for Parents
http://www.give-it-away.co.uk/small_steps.htm

Lewis, S. (2009) 'If she can do this, I can', Guardian, 14 November
http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/nov/14/brain-damage-baby-birth

Lewis, M. (2009) A waste of good trees, Mama Lewis, and the amazing adventured of the half-brained baby, 18 November

Lewis, M. (2009) Small Steps School for Parents (update), Mama Lewis, and the amazing adventured of the half-brained baby, 19 November
http://mamalewis.wordpress.com/2009/11/19/small-steps-school-for-parents-update/