Tuesday, 30 October 2012

OPEN LETTER

From Stockholm

Lars Mullback writes –

Could you help me to spread this text to the conductive world?

CE will stay in Stockholm – protesting parents won. The authorities capitulated at all fronts, because parents, disability organisations and disabled people themselves came together. They demanded VERY loudly and powerfully that CE and Move & Walk MUST be available in Stockholm. It took eight days to get politicians to unravel the decision so that CE and Move & Walk can stay in Stockholm.
 
This has been written a lot about this in the Swedish media and online. The only thing that I have seen on the international CE web sites, are at http://www.conductive-world.info. It is important to spread news, so we can help and understand each other. Conductive World carried eight stores on Move & Walk's struggle, including the 'Formal statement from Stockholm County Council' of 24 October.
 
Everything that Councillor Stig Nyman stated in his formal statement has been withdrawn, because in large parts that statement is incorrect and totally misleading. Stig Nyman's handling of this matter and his statement led to the political leadership's in Stockholm having an extraordinary meeting, specifially on this case, on 25 October. At this special meeting, it was decided that Stig Nyman's handling of the matter contained so many formal errors that the entire decision must be reversed. All participating political parties were in agreement to withdraw the decision, even those representing Stig Nyman.
 
The editor of the web-site www.conductive-world.info commented on this and wrote: 'Lars Mullback and a small group of parents were protesting publicly'. It was NOT a small group of parents. It was over fifty parents and children demonstrating over two days. And a united disability movement with several hundred thousand members, was behind the protests. I could not really have not done this myself.
 
CE and Move & Walk came to Sweden because many people with cerebral palsy and our families have demanded this concept. Now, after 15 years in the country, the protests over the closure threat has been so strong that even I have been shocked and touched to my very soul.
 
For the protesters, there is an obvious difference between such CE with conductors who have university degrees and CE (or intensive training) as a side skill within the multidisciplinary team. After this week of protests, are these differences for the target group now understood by everyone, because of all the letters and phone calls to the politicians from parents and from adults with CE experience?
 
One example is Julia, a 19-year-old girl. She describes her relatively small physical progresses by the example of sitting on a pallet and learning to move around it. To most of us, this sounds like a useless exercise, but for her this completed balance task has meant life and an introduction into her adult life. Not because of the exercise, but because of the understanding of her self, that CE has given her during the years since she was two.
 
She finishes her letter by telling that she saved money for a long time, to be able to go to Budapest. She went there in August 2012. This 19-year-old girl surely yearns for sunbathing and disco as do all equally alert and happy girls of her age. But Julia has had another dream, which she has to realise first. She writes –
 
'I went to the house where the founder of Conductive Education Dr András Pető lived. I had a rose with me. The most beautiful red rose. I had attached a written greeting to the rose. I left the red rose in gratitude there, for all he has meant to me and to many others.'
 
After the last big demonstration, another teenage girl came towards me with big tears rolling on her cheeks. We can call her Tess. I recognised her immediately. I remembered Tess as a two-year-old, and how she came to Move & Walk with her arms and legs strapped, lying down watching the ceiling, seemingly contactless, introspective. A skinny child, who had given up. I remember her because she reminded me of Kerstin, from my own childhood, with the same cerebral palsy diagnosis as Tess. Kerstin died as a sixteen-year-old, never having escaped from her strapped, sleeping stupor.
 
Tess came to me now, sixteen years old, alive, but full of sadness, seemingly afraid that the children would not get the same chance to life as she had had.
 
Tess was not strapped into a wheelchair. She walked toward me, on her own two feet, without crutches or support. She was the most vulnerable, thinnest and most unstable person I have ever seen, so divinely beautiful in her grief. In her slow walk towards me she looked like the most well-made marionette doll at the Royal Opera. It was as if both her body and soul were hovering above the ground, prevented from collapsing because of magical threads spun by the soul of faith, and by a hard-learned body-awareness experienced from years of CE.
 
Tess's tears ran still, but when she had come close enough, I saw that she was not crying with grief. She was determined.
 
'All societies are created by those who live there', she said. 'I'll become a political scientist. To be understood is democracy,' she said.
 
Suddenly I was the one crying. I cried with gratitude and a renewed strength. A strength that I shall never lose after this brief moment with Tess.
 
As a two-year-old child she had been awakened from her sleep because I helped Move & Walk to Sweden. Now she lived and stood straight, lifted by invisible and magic threads of pride and faith in the future. I have never seen CE so clear.
 
'Of course,' I said. 'Democracy needs you.'
 
My dream is an international organization, as strong as the Swedish, that can defend and demand that people with cerebral palsy are entitled to CE.
 
It is possible if we unite. We can unite, despite our differences.
 
The first proof that intellectual unity begins to take shape in the CE-world, is the book Conductive Education, written from Austria, Hungary, Germany and Sweden together, with support from the UK. See link:
 
Please pass this to whoever it may concern.
 
 
Lars Mullback
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lars.mullback
email: lars@mullback.se

QUESTIONS OF EVIDENCE

Not what evidence – whose?

A director's dilemma

As someone who helped found a CE centre, and has been responsible for navigating it through the ever more difficult waters of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, Norman Perrin has had to confront the question of 'evidence'. So have many others, but few of these share their thoughts and dilemmas publicly. He has recently returned to this matter on his blog:
 

 
The only Comment that Norman has received from a peer comes from the only other person-in-charge who regularly attempts to grasp this nettle, in public anyway.
 
When stuck for answer, change the question
 
This present posting on Conductive World stems from a question posed by Norman Perrin at the end of the second of the above postings –
 
...what evidence could be demanded of, might reasonably be expected about, should be produced by conductive education, to prove what works?
 
I dunno, it beats me. Norman, it always has and probably always will, and not just in respect to education that is 'conductive'. At least it does unless and until I stand right back from our society's usual givens and ask a different level of question, perhaps a more fundamental one: ''Presented to whom?'
 
Please spare me the usual suspects

Then I have to take on board that it is likely to a large part pointless to deal with the powerful echelon of decision-makers, opinion-formers, bureaucrats and 'academics' who rappropriated qustions of 'evidence' as their particular stock in trade. Why pontless? Because generation after generation of such functionaries in our country (not uniquely, for this applies, I suspect, in other Anglos-Saxon countries too) have demonstrated themselves consummately incapable of sensible governance of the national educational system. One component of their collective incompetence must be over this matter of 'evidence'.
 
Ideology
 
Why should this be? Not surely because our own 'usual suspects' in education, government and academe, are any the less intelligent, or more poorly educated, or less decent and less concerned for the future of our children and our society, than are their equivalents in, say, the Chinese world, or Central Europe for theirs, or anywhere else where education systems apparently 'work'. Rather, I suspect, one has to look at 'the culture' and, as part of this, consider its pervasive and long-standing philosophies of childhood – to be frank, its relevant ideologies.
 
This is so for the education service as a whole and, within that whole, for questions to do with education that is 'conductive' and have to do with the upbringing and schooling (and yes, the 'habilitation') of children who have motor disorders. (It also applies to a lot more than just  'education' or to that specific population).
 
Evidence for whom?
 
Who wants it? There's the rub. If 'evidence' is for the people who presently require it, in a given national context it will have to be of a particular kind. In fact, one tends to think of it in respect to CE precisely because of the agenda set by that echelon. As demonstrated by history, however, has that echelon demonstrated itself competent to deal with even its established mainstream business? Does it do so now? Has it earned any apparent specific credentials to be involved in the work or the organisation of Conductive Education, or with its experience withing thae lives of families – or indeed with motor disorders at all, by any means? Materials that Norman refers to to in his above two postings rather suggest not. If not, why does one defer to its present demands?
 
Instead of trying to answer  questions of evidence from the bottom up, on the own terms of the present hegemony, try turning the situation round, look at it from the top of the process, from the point of view of what functions that evidence might serve. What sort of 'evidence' might other echelons require?
 
For whose benefit?
 
What possibly more important matters might others be concerned about, what are more important questions to ask?
 
For whose benefit?

Monday, 29 October 2012

ALL QUIET

Everywhere
 
The battle over the new contract for habilitation for cerebral palsied children and young people in Stockholm, Sweden, was short and public and very political. It was instructive to follow it in real time, and try to report it fairly on Conductive World. Whether what happened in this particular context has generalisable messages for those whose struggle is fought out in other social contexts is another matter – but at least people outside Sweden now have the option of considering this if they will.

It was sheer chance that Conductive World came upon this storm in the Stockholm tea cup, within a very few days of its breaking, by spotting it mentioned almost as an aside on a Facebook page. The conductive world outside Sweden and its Scandinavian neighbours might otherwise never had heard of it. One of the less enticing features of CE worldwide is how closed and unsharing it can be – I suspect to its own long-term detriment.
 
This particular battle was fought, in public at least, by activists, by parents of children and young people directly involved, and by Lars Mullback who has cerebral palsy himself. Scandi politics with their kaleidoscope of little political parties did the rest.
 
Maybe there are life-and-death battles being fought for CE services elsewhere in the world, right now. We may never know till the bell tolls on another service – and maybe not properly even then. There is possibly not much concrete that CE's enthusiasts can do to assist their fellows in trouble elsewhere – what is certain, however, is that without better information on what is happening, there will be no help even attempted.
 
It is all quiet again in Stockholm, for the time being. So if you were planning to offer a hand, you are off the hook. And if you were not, then there was no need to bother anyway.
 
And now that the Swedish sound and fury have died down the rest of the conductive world sounds very quiet indeed. A little money is awarded here, a small center or centre is inaugurated there, but there is no intellectual breakthrough promised and, 'Europe' having run its course, no great institutional activity appears immanent (except the PAI's planned incursion into Mexico and Spanish America). 
 
It all sounds uncannily, uncharacteristically quiet.
 
Nothing significant, I hope. This has happened before, about a year ago, then everything ground back into life, and went on much as before. Perhaps this will happen again.
 
We shall no doubt see.

Friday, 26 October 2012

ALL QUIET ON THE SWEDISH FRONT

Round 1 to Move & Walk
 
Stockholm County has found a technicality in the contract process. It has cancelled the contract just awarded to Rehab Station Stockholm AB, a traditional habilitation company. Move & Walk's funding will continue for the moment, to provide conductive pedagogy to Stockholm children with cerebral palsy:
 
 
Meanwhile...
  • The whole contracting process will be reviewed.
  • Particularly, the possibility arises that parents' entitlement might not be just for a service but for a choice of services
  • Little political parties scrabble around for a share of the credit for yesterday's outcome
  • Conductive pedagogy has achieved excellent national media coverage (though without much indication of distinction between the two 'trainings')
  • There has been as yet no professional backlash
  • And the politics will not go away.
This battle has been won. There may be others.

A good press

So far anyway, this dispute has been presented very much in the favour of Move & Walk, with sympathy very much for the parents and their right to chose, rather than for CE as such – i.e. a political matter rather than a technical one.

Public coverage has been extensive. Recent items include:
 
Congratulations
 
To Lars Mullbeck and the parents, to Eszter and her colleagues, and to all their supporters...

WHEN LESS IS MORE

'Isn’t there something more I can do for my child?'
 
What a question. What a marvellous opportunity it offers, if you have not said or shown it already, to show and say just what makes the conductive approach so very different from what people so often think – about children with motor disorders, about children with other kinds of disability, about adults as well as children, about old folk, and about people in general.
 
A better question by far
 
Conductive Education's approach depends upon a quite different philosophy, so it prompts quite different questions, such as –
 
'Isn’t there something less I can do for my child?'
 

The pedagogic principle of the least necessary help.
 
It is not what one does (or how much or how little of it) but how, and why that are the cardinal questions. 'Conductive' is a different philosophy of childhood (and of so much else).
 
Better questions, better answers
 
I am not sure that any of the above is encompassed in the sample answer here –
 
Conductive education methodology has a transformative effect on mobility and independence. Using a holistic and intensive approach that combines medical knowledge with educational methods, your child can gain control over his or her body – and accomplish tasks you may never thought possible. With increased mobility, strength, problem-solving skills, confidence, and self-esteem, not only will your child’s quality of life be improved, but so will the whole families.
 
 
These are lots of answers like this. Do they really help people understand? Or what actually to do? Renewing Conductive Eduction means renewing answers like this too.
 
 

Thursday, 25 October 2012

STOCKHOLM

County Council shifts ground
Maybe goalposts too

Procurement of intensive training

for children and young people

is cancelled

The Bureau of Health and Medical Care, together with the Chairman of preparing for the programme for the elderly and those with multiple disabilities, has decided to cancel the ongoing procurement of intensive training for children and young people. The reason is a procedural defect in evaluating the tenders. Officials at Health and Health Care management are also mandated to enquire into the future of procurement.

The Bureau of Health and Medical Care has now agreed to cancel the procurement of intensive training for children and young people with impaired mobility. The award decision had been announced last week.

The reason or cancelling the current contract is a formal error in evaluating tenders. The error is about how references should be provided.

Health and Health Care management has also been commissioned to investigate the future of procurement, and to come back with a proposal so that this patient group's critical need for intensive training can be met as soon as possible.
Filippa Reinfeldt
Birgitta Rydberg

Dag Larsson

Stig Nyman

http://www.sll.se/SLL/Templates/NewsPage.aspx?id=62681

Reference
Reinfeldt, R., Rydberg, B., Larsson, D., Nyman, S. (2012) Upphandling av intensivträning för barn och ungdomar avbryts

STOCKHOLM CE: PUBLIC PLEA

Lobby for CE

Filippa Reinfeldt (Moderate Party) is Stockholm County Council's County Commissioner of Health Services.

Listen, Filippa Reinfeldt!

Let's talk about what Conductive Education is for children with cerebral palsy.

The disability movement in Stockholm requests a personal meeting with Filippa Reinfeldt to reflect on the procurement of intensive training for children with disabilities. We believe that there may be such serious shortcomings in the preparation of the case that the contract should be withdrawn.

Health and Medical Care at Stockholm County Council has decided to stop offering intensive training in conductive pedagogy for children with cerebral palsy and other neurological disabilities. Conductive training has been in Stockholm as an alternative and complement to traditional physical therapy for about 15 years. Over the years, great experience and expertise has been built up, that will now be destroyed in one fell swoop.

The expertise that exists within conductive pedagogy in terms of neurological damage is not found in any other form of training.  There was a meeting before the contract, between the National Association for Disabled Children and Young People in Stockholm and the management of  Health Care, at which we clearly expressed how valuable conductive pedagogy is for our children, and that it is impossible to replace it with other methods. We are very disappointed and critical of the political leaders in the County for not taking account of our views. We also believe that it is a violation of the Children's Convention not to seek children's views before a that is so crucial for those concerned.

It has emerged that the preparation of the case has major flaws, so much so that a full council meeting should be convened to put forward the strong case that the contract may need to be withdrawn. The National Association for Disabled Children and Young People, the Association of People with Neurological Disabilities, and the Green Party, who have constantly tried to change the contract, now unite to require that Filippa Reinfeldt should receive the disability movement to go through the deficiencies of preparation, before Friday, 26 October. A personal meeting is now needed to go over the facts that have been established and to consider whether there are grounds to withdraw the contract.

It is a question of democracy that citizens should be able to express their views to elected politicians.

Filippa Reinfeldt has answered through her secretary that Stig Nyman (Christian Democreats) is solely responsible in the matter. But since Nyman has been involved in the gaps that exist in the investigation, we would like Filippa Reinfeldt as head of department to take the issue over and talk to the disability movement direct.
 
Ingrid Näsman Birch,
President, National Association for Disabled Children and Young People Stockholm County

Kristina Törnblom,
Chairman, Neurological Disabilities Association, Stockholm County

Harald Strand,
Chairman of the County Council for Children, Young People and Adults with Developmental Disabilities in Stockholm County

Lars Mullback,
Film Director

Therese Sivebo,
Chairman of the Swedish Ceebral{Palsy, Association

Helene Öberg,
Health Care Policy Spokesperson for the Green Party in Stockholm County Council

http://rbu.se/sites/rbu.se/files/pressmeddelande_24_oktober_2012_0.pdf

Previous postings on this topic
 


Wednesday, 24 October 2012

WHY M&W LOST CONTRACT

Formal statement from Stockholm County Council
 
Councillor Stig Nyman states –
 
Procurement of intensive training
for children and young people
with disabilities 
 
Yesterday afternoon I was interviewed by TV4 Stockholm and by ABC, on the new procurement of intensive training for children with cerebral palsy and other diagnoses. I also met a group of patients and families who were concerned about the contract and wanted to express their views to me. According to media reports, the Move and Walk is to appeal and it is important that the process be carried out.

These are the reasons why we have chosen to make this statement:
  • My goal is to improve care for these patients, and we are also making several major initiatives
  • We are increasing the scope of care efforts so that more children may receive care.
  • The patients who had been excluded from treatment, due to the limited size of [M&W's] business, will now have a better opportunity to be intensively trained through an expanded service.
  • No reduction is being made, but the alliance will increase its investment by 700,000.
  • No child needs to interrupt the treatment. This will now be offered by Rehab Station Stockholm. from April next year.
  • Care is provided according to the National Board's national guidelines
  • Rehab Station Stockholm is a renowned player with which the County Council has had long and successful collaboration.
  • Rehab Station Stockholm had significantly better scores in the contract when it comes to offering good and safe care
  • This focus on the education of children, parents and personal assistants is an exciting development that will benefit both patients and their families.
http://stockholmslandsting.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/upphandlingen-av-intensivtraning-for.html

As yet this statement has attracted no replies
For new readers
Private conductive CE company Move & Walk has been contracted by Stockholm County Council to provide a habilitation service for children with cerebral palsy. The arrangement is now coming to its programmed end and the Council has announced that the next three-year contract will go to a non-conductive company offering a 'traditional' service.
As soon as this news came out Lars Mullback and a small group of parents were already protesting publicly over this, in a press release of 17 October –
Stockholm County Council is to withdraw this special education for 300 cerebral palsied children. Instead it is to procure intensive physiotherapy.
Update
Yesterday saw a small demonstration outside Stockholm's County Hall:


And Lars, along with conductive mother Ola Berge, published an opinion piece in the national newspaper Svenska Dagbladet:

...now the politicians have chosen to procure intense training instead of Conductive Education, a special education concepts just for cerebral palsy. Move & Walk (M & W) has lost the contract to Rehab Station Stockholm (RSS).

When we called RSS and asked for training for cerebral palsy, they said they are not working with Cerebral Palsy and not with children either. Three different managers testified, however, that they will learn more about children and CP now that they got the contract, and that it will be "as good as for adults."


Formal appeal against this decision has to be submitted by 26 October

References

(2012) Barn med hjärnskador mister ovärderlig hjälp, Svenska Dagbladet, 24 October
http://www.svd.se/opinion/brannpunkt/barn-med-hjarnskador-mister-ovarderlig-hjalp_7610590.svd

Mullback, L. (2012) Föräldrar protesterar – Katastrof för våra bar, Press release
http://www.mynewsdesk.com/se/view/pressrelease/foeraeldrar-protesterar-katastrof-foer-vaara-barn-804420

Nyman, S. (2012) Upphandlingen av intensivträning för barn och ungdomar med rörelsehinder
http://stockholmslandsting.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/upphandlingen-av-intensivtraning-for.html

Earlier stories on Conductive World

http://www.conductive-world.info/2012/10/stockholmas-paradigm-example-yesterday.html
http://www.conductive-world.info/2012/10/stockholm-political-process.html