Friday, 18 August 2017

A CONDUCTIVE LIFE

Simon von Quadt (with Hansi and Peter)

Konduktive Förderung | Bild: BR
Simon von Quadt
It is not often nowadays that one can report a substantial overview of a comprehensive Conductive Education experience on a major television station. I do not know why this should be, CE around the world seems to have little taste or capability for public statements. It can hardly be because CE no longer needs the public enthusiasm and awareness, the financial and political benefits that television exposure can bring.

Over the years one of CE's major proponent and beneficiary of steady and informative media coverage has been Fortschritte Starnberg in Bavaria. Earlier this week a 28-minute TV documentary by Beatrice Sonter was shown on Bavarian Television, featuring Simon von Quadt, now a young adult, his mother Hansi and father Peter.

This short feature currently remains on line – I do not know whether this will be for a limited time or more permanently. The film is in German, A brief synopsis gives the gist –

Simon's birth doctors diagnosed a spastic paralysis and confronted his parents with the prognosis: 'Your child will never walk!' Hanni and Peter would not accept this. They put all the levers to hand to promote Simon as best they could.

By chance they encountered the so-called 'conductive method' developed by the Hungarian physician András Pető (1893-1967). Conductive Education is a intervention for people with spastic paralysis, training and bringing together a variety of various skills. The aim is to improve gross and fine motor skills, develop language and thinking, coping with everyday tasks, who carry out intensive and very strenuous training programme with the patients. They are in effect physiotherapists, language and occupational therapists in a single person.

Peter von Quadt went to the Pető Institute in Budapest in 1989 and was impressed by this therapy's apparent successes. At that time, however, it was available only in Hungary. The Quadts changed their lives completely. Hanni gave up her job as an educator and went with Simon for several weeks a year to Budapest for him to be treated there. After several stays in Budapest, Simon could actually stand and learn independently. The Quadts knew that they are privileged in their own ability to travel again and again to Hungary. They therefore wanted other children to benefit. Inspired by the success of their son, in 1994 Hanni and Peter von Quadt founded the association 'FortSchritt e.V.', which took as its task establishing the Petö method in Germany. Despite many bureaucratic hurdles, they have finally succeeded.

Today the now thirty-year-old Simon von Quadt leads a self-directed though restricted life. The author of the documentary has followed his development and the von Quadts' work several times with her camera since the 1990s, and this documentation amounts to an impressive long-term observation.

The conductive lives of young adults and their families with serious experiences of Conductive Education (pedagogy and upbringing) do indeed constitute impressive living witness to this approach – veritable testimonios – and television remains probably still the best medium to convert these into public and political effect.

Reference

Sonter, B (2017) 'More freedom with every step'... Holistic support with the Pető therapy, Bayerischer Rundfunk, 15 August

Sutton, A. (2015) CE research: CE Research? Do some yourself, Conductive World, 9 April


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