Wednesday, 29 June 2011

We are all getting older

We might all want a conductor one day
Millions and millions of us

Andria Spindel, President of March of Dimes Canada writes on her blog today about the Festival of International Conferences on Caregiving, Disability, Aging and Technology, that was held in Toronto from 5 to 8 June.

Today, with modern health care, miracles of medicine and science, and rehabilitation, family support, and healthy lifestyles, people are growing old with a disability, while in our aging population there is a growing segment that is aging into a different kind of disability. Oddly, the treatment and support of older people has been through a parallel system to that of people with disabilities. I believe that is because the people we helped 20 or 30 years ago in the disability sector were young, and were opposed to being lumped in with older people and the frailty of age was not considered a disability. So, two social services, health care, housing, transportation and legal/advocacy streams of knowledge and interventions developed.

Conductive Education grew from its roots and developed in an earlier time, when disabled people were not expected to live long, and nor were most older people! Perhaps it is time for CE's practices, its undertandings and its place in the world to evolve to match the new biological, social and personal realities of the world that we now live in.

This is a growth sector. There were some eleven-hundred people at that recent Toronto bash. Andria
reports –

People from 42 countries were present, many presenting in one or more of the six concurrent conferences, and post-conference symposium, or exhibiting at one of 93 booths which were packed with information. Many presentations were via poster, many in plenary or panel, and some in workshops. This cornucopia of expert knowledge was actively being transferred to practitioners, policy makers, consumers and advocates for seniors and people with disabilities.

I don't bet but, were I to, then I should wager that no one there mentioned Conductive Education.

Change creeps in
Here and there, not programatically

As in many aspects of conductive practice, developments are probably happening, undescribed, unsung, and generally unknown of, even to each other. Perhaps those who undertake such initiatives might feel unsure of the legitimacy of adapting their understandings and pedagogy, deriving by the large from work with children and relatively young adults, to older people. That is, not just older people who have had strokes or have Parkinsons', or who have cerebral palsy and lived on into a ripe old age, but also older people who do not have 'movement disorders' at all, they are not disabled, 'just old', becoming more frail, losing confidence and self-esteem, failing to adapt old-established skills, relinquishing independence.

'Where might I find a job in future years? ' I hear conductors ask. Don't ask, look around, and take a chance.

For one conductor's perspectives on working like this, see Lisa Gombinsky's emerging reports on her experiences and her clients in the Enable Me project in New South Wales:


Lisa hails originally from Toronto.

Blogs cited

Gombinsky, L. (2011) Conductive Magic, The Phys.Ed. Studio, and Me

Spindel, A. (2011) President's blog

1 comment:

  1. I could and hopefully will fill pages and pages of my blog articulating what I have learned over the last 8 years working with both people with cerebral palsy and able bodied people, watching them ageing gracefully and less gracefully in some cases. Over and over again I have seen what Conductive Education has to offer to people in both of these populations.

    I have said it before and I'll say it again -- Andrew sees me as a conductor. I think that it would be near impossible for him to see me otherwise, no matter what hat or other disguise I turn up in, and trust me, I have tried to convince him otherwise at times when I was questioning myself. Andrew sees me as a conductor, and sees my work as conductive, and recognizes conductive pedagogy in how I approach whatever work I do. And when he tells me so I have no choice but to believe him - and not just because of the oh so Andrew style and tone that he uses to 'tell' me things when I'm wallowing in self doubt. I trained under some wonderful conductors, but it was Andrew who taught me what wearing my conductor hat was all about, about the pedagogy that underpins the practice, and to this day it is Andrew that reminds me of how proud I should be to wear it, and it is Andrew that gives me confidence to get out there and 'just do it', to take risks, and to write about what I do.

    And he is right -- there is and will always be work for conductors who are willing to look around, to take a chance, and not to ask for permission or approval. Get you conductor hat on and 'Just do it'!

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