Tuesday, 29 July 2014


Where does your conductive practice stand on two continua?
The formal abstract of a fairly recent systematic review of FCS ('family-centred services') –
During the past two decades, awareness of the role of the family in the child's life has increased and the term 'family-centred services' (FCS) has been introduced to facilitate care for children with special needs and their families. It is, however, unclear how various early intervention programmes incorporate family involvement in service delivery. The present study systematically analyses the nature of family involvement in six frequently used early intervention programmes for infants at high risk of developmental disorders: neuro-developmental treatment, treatment according to Vojta, Conductive Education, Infant Health and Development Program, Infant Behaviour Assessment and Intervention Program, and Coping with and Caring for infants with special needs  a family-centred programme (COPCA). The analysis shows that the role of the family is diverse: it varies from parent training to be a therapist without attention to family function (in Vojta) to the autonomous family that receives coaching (COPCA). The data suggest two trends over time: (1) from child-focused to family-focused orientation; and (2) from professionally directed guidance to coaching based on equal partnership.

Your practice?

I suspect that Conductive Education practices around the world – everywhere – lie scattered across along both the continua that the authors propose:
  • child-focused to family-focused orientation
  • professionally directed guidance to coaching based on equal partnership.
Well, where does yours lie?

The literature lag

The article itself summarise the role of parents in Conductive Education thus –

Parents are welcome to discuss problems with the conductor but education focuses on the achievements of the child. A specific role of the family has not been described

The two publications that this is based upon date from 1984 and 1991 (to add insult to injury here, the journal's referencing here is just not up to scratch for an academic publishing house of this status).

It is instructive to see how, even in a major international paediatric journal, the 'academic literature' on Conductive Education simply fails to reflect so many real developments in conductive practice over the last twenty years of so. But it is not alone to be blamed. What more could Conductive Education itself be doing to address this? 

To FCS and beyond...

Family-centred services are a progressive trend in contemporary habilitation. Conductive Education could do worse than explore the experience and articulations of FCS, lean from them where appropriate, and make sure that CE is recognised (some of it anyway) as standing up there among the leaders.

As described in the paper referred to here, FCS is a progressive trend within the existing paradigm. What is there to be seen here and there in Conductive Education around the world, that transforms FCS to a newer, higher level?

Of course, you are quite free not to tell, and everyone knows what it is like to be 'too busy'... So the world might never know.

So it goes, all too often in Conductive Education. Possibly never to be heard of again.


Dirks, T., Hadders-Algra, M. (2011) The role of the family in intervention of infants at high risk of cerebral palsy: a systematic analysis. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, vol.53, Suppl. 4, pp. 62-67

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