Saturday, 17 April 2010

Letter from America

The Center for Developmental Differences

One way for Conductive Education to succeed long-term
in the United States

Judit Roth

My new center, the Center for Developmental Differences, is not CE-focused. We will always provide Conductive Education to those who will benefit. I love CE and I am always going to be a CET. and my passion is definitely. to work with children with cerebral palsy) but, based on my 13+ years working in the United States, I came to the conclusion that the CE centers that we all tried very hard to build are just not the way to succeed long-term. I know that this is a harsh statement but we have to realize that this model is not working long-term. There are only a handful of CE organizations in the US who have able to mark a 10-15 year anniversary.

We have to face it: there are so many facts that are against the small centers that exist in the United StatesTo name just a few such problems – and ways through them:

Small centers

Potential problem areas: lack of visibility, lack of credibility, lack of support from other professionals (medical and educational groups)

Keys to success: excellent marketing and PR, outstanding professional relationship with area agencies

Parent-organized groups

Potential problem areas: lack of business skills, lack of management skills, lack of effective communication skills with other parents and employees

Keys to success: strong, diverse (!) and effective boards, admit and treat your progra- administrator position as a full time job

Most CE centers in the US are set up as not-for-profit organizations

Potential problem areas: lack of time to fund-raise, lack of knowledge and experience in event-planning, weak PR, lack of grant-writing knowledge and experience, ultimately lack of funding

Keys to success: large group of supporters (workers), strong PR, healthy financial state of local area (current recession has killed many initiatives)

The list could go on…

All kudos to those who have succeeded in establishing and running their centers long-term! If you take a closer look at them, you should find the above ‘keys to success’ list implemented in their business plans (in the non-profit world we call these ;strategic plans'!) and in their daily operations.

I am not saying that it is impossible...

A different model

I have recently opened a new center for children with disabilities. At this time, I re-invented my vision and focused on a different model. This center ( serves children with all types of disabilities. We not only provide CE but have expanded our team and services with other traditional and somewhat experimental treatments and services., to provide therapeutic, educational, and recreational services under one roof, for example peech therapy, music therapy, Conductive Education, a study-skill program, and self-defence for children with special needs.

The logic behind this model:
  • childhood disability is not a diminishing trend
  • city and state government agencies are slow to react to new trends and parents' demands
  • local service-providers have long client wait lists
  • families need and want convenience (schedule, variety of programs and location)
  • families are more Internet-savvy and look for treatment options on line
Children with cerebral palsy

1. Numbers. The numbers do not change: approximately 1 in 500 live births will result in a child with cerebral palsy. I reviewed many census-based statistics and most areas in the US do not have ‘enough’ children with cerebral palsy to keep up and run an 'only CE' focused institute! I may be attacked for this, saying by those who say 'Even if we help five kids, we make a huge difference”. That is correct. I agree. Right now, in this letter, though, I am focusing on a business model that would more successful help deliver CE to those who might benefit.

2. Advocacy. There are not many effective agencies in the United States advocating for children with cerebral pal. In my opinion, UCP – the United Cerebral Palsy organization – has lost its focus and is helping everyone, left and right. Helping is nice but our kids are not represented and their issues are not pushed hard enough in any platform. Of course, this includes advocating and backing effective, cerebral-palsy-focused treatments (including Conductive Education).

3. Conductive Education and conductors in the US. Unfortunately, Aquinas did not graduate enough American conductors to make a really good wave in this country for Conductive Education. We Hungarians (and others, of different nationalities) keep pushing CE on our own small scale but we keep hitting the problem areas that I have already briefly mentioned

The Center for Developmental Differences

At CDD we are building a team that is responsive to changes in demands and acceptive of new ideas, – and of course open to Conductive Education I believe that families who bring their children with cerebral palsy to our center to receive speech therapy from an American, board-certified, state-licensed speech/language pathologist will look much easier upon and accept our Conductive Education program hosted in the same building and supported (idea-wise) by the other therapists (to clarify: our Conductive Education program is delivered by a Conductive Education teacher only)

Time will tell if my vision and my way of thinking will yield good results.

Center for Developmental Differences
4000 Virginia Beach Blvd
Suite 136
Virginia Beach, VA 23452
ph. 757486.0585
fax 757486.0586

US CE: two empirical enquiries

Judit's view of the CE scene in the United States is in part founded upon two empirical enquiries, reported in 2003 and 2007. For more on the first of these, see a recent posting on Conductive World:

Judit presented the results of a follow-up study at the last World CE Congress, in Sweden in 2007. She would be happy to share these. Contact her direct via CDD.

It is such a pity that the content of so many of these World Congresses has blown away like chaff in the wind the moment that they are over, perhaps reflecting something of an attitude towards knowledge that is still too prevalent within Conductive Education.

1 comment:

  1. Judit -- I would like to congratulate you on your new project, The Centre for Developmental Differences.

    I would also like to thank you for having the courage to say what so many of us trying to find ways to make CE as we learned it work -- sometimes despite our best efforts, our blood, sweat, and tears, and the passion of conductors and participants it just doesn't work. Sometimes it does work and like you, I continue raising my hat in salute to the conductors and families that have found a way to succeed. Often, in my experience anyway and I know I am not alone, though the practice might be sound, the participants learning, demand for groups and conductors exist, many CE centres are simply not sustainable or have to compromise too much or rely one one person battling on.

    The Center for Developmental Differences -- and even more to the point your vision for this center -- sounds incredibly well thought out and I love the positive way you have found to offer CE amongst an array of services that will offer choice to the children and families involved.

    Again -- thank you for telling us about it and for your continued brave forays into unmarked CE territory.

    Lisa Gombinsky
    Senior Conductive Educator and Personal Trainer
    Sydney, Australia