Saturday, 12 December 2009

Balderdash today – 1

Start of a sad occasional series

The world of Conductive Education should realise what it is increasingly up against in terms of the massive wave of misinformation that besets it.

As things turn up then brief reference will be made here on Conductive World..

The following egregious specimen comes from the website of a company based in Chicago. It is of course available to anyone to read, anywhere in the world. The website is called Healing thresholds: connecting community and science to heal autism (emphasis in original). Inter alia, this site assures:

When you look through our therapy fact sheets, you will see that everything we state is referenced. In other words, anything we write has been stated by an expert in the field of autism research and reviewed by other experts in the field during the process of publication. If you think we may have misinterpreted information, you can look at the lay summary of the cited reference, the abstract of the cited reference, or you can read the reference itself. In all cases, you will know that what we have written has a reference point in the scientific community. Our fact sheets are prepared by medical writers who are trained scientists. They are reviewed by a developmental pediatrician with expertise in the field of autism.

In the list of 'therapy fact sheets' there appears, perhaps surprisingly:

Conductive education (used by 10% of parents)

The ten percent comes as a particular surprise but, I also read:

We have chosen our therapies based upon a publication describing the percentage of parents using each particular therapy to treat their child with autism (Green 2006).

The source referred to is a respectably authored article in a reputable journal, indexed on Medline. I cannot afford to access the original aricle(Conductive Education desperately needs to be able to resource such knowledge, elsewise how might it expect to maintain a position in the world?) so I have to reserve judgement. The summary of this source article is given at the foot of this item. Judge for yourself.

An authoritative statement

The implausible-looking statistic aside, what does one find when a search engine identifies this site? What information and impression does the parent, student etc find here to help construct an understanding of Conductive Education?

Healing thresholds: connecting community and science to heal autism certainly takes pains to make itself to look authoritative. Its authority established, this is what the site says about Conductive Education:

Autism therapy: conductive education

Method of special education with a focus on functional motor skills in a group setting. Conductive education uses combined principles of several therapy approaches. For example, occupational therapy and physical therapy may together be part of the individual conductive education program.

Synonyms for conductive education include: individual conductive education, individual conductive education program

Don't just sit there. Act

Why do people promulgate stuff like this? Surely it cannot just be for the advertising revenue.

Is there no American equivalent to 'trading standards'? If so, is there no individual or organisation in the United States bothered and self-confident enough to make a complain and get such stuff removed.


Green. V. A, Pituch, K.A., Ichon, J., Choi, A. O'Reily, M., Sigafoos, J. (2006) Internet survey of treatments used by parents of children with autism, Research into Developmental Disability, vol. 27, no 1, pp.70-84


  1. I followed the 'autism-healing thresholds' link and noted there was an invitation to leave a comment, which I did: "I have to say that your summary of conductive education is complete nonsense. As such, it is utterly misleading to parents." Balderdash or twaddle might have been shorter.
    I'm not sure where the Comment ended up, but it's maybe here:

  2. My comment disappeared into the depths of that website too. I did catch a quick glimpse of it, and yours too Norman, when I tried to read the comments page.

    Strangely I was not allowed to stay there more than a couple of seconds and could not return again later, so I have no idea what else had been said.

  3. Hi, there, Dan Kohn from Healing Thresholds here. I'm sorry you were unhappy with our (lack of) coverage of conductive therapy. We have information on over 1000 autism-related therapy topics. We have comprehensive, pediatrician-reviewed on the 12 most common autism therapies, and over 2000 research and news articles on many other topics.

    Unfortunately, our site has very little information on conductive therapy. If you don't feel our definition is reasonable, could you please suggest an alternative? Also, it's very easy to add content to our site explaining what conductive therapy is and why you think parents should consider it.

    2 comments were posted here:

    Unfortunately, due to the caching system we're using, new content doesn't show up for 12 hours. But it does appear. If you create a (free) account and login, you can see new comments immediately.

    Anyway, thanks for your comments, and sorry you found our coverage disappointing.

  4. Thank you Dan for your prompt reply. One of us will surely be responding with an alternative definition of Conductive Education very soon.


  5. Susie,

    I don't think that anyone need bother about a definiton of Conductive Education for this particular site, since CE's very presence there might only serve to confuse.

    Dan Kohn commented:

    I'm sorry you were unhappy with our (lack of) coverage of conductive therapy.

    I would have no unhappiness at all if CE were simply removed altogether.

    I cannot conceive how it ever got there in the first place. Perhaps having a padiatrician advising upon 'therapies' for psychological/behavioural phenomena might be a factor in this...

    Parents deserve much better than this.


  6. See also now:[title]=Responding%20to%20conductive%20education

    By the way, while I apprerciate that there may be circumstances in which people might wish to withold their identity, what is gained for anyone by doing so here?

    It serves merely to lessen the apparent plausibility of the position.


  7. Almost as an aside, I'm fascinated by the speed with which Dan Kohn from Healing Thresholds responded to Andrew's posting.

    This fact alone demonstrates the potential of the internet for entering into new conversations and new types of relationship: a potential which all in conductive education should seek to take advantage of, working together.

    One practical problem here - I'm having some difficulty working out how to respond to Dan Kohn directly.

    If you're reading this Dan, how about sharing a direct contact? Also, conductive education is about education (professionals' training, pedagogy, curriculum) and NOT therapy.

  8. For a private conversation, you can email me at For a public one, this site is fine. I'm receiving the comments by email.