What is Conductive Education?
Conductive Education is a system of education developed to teach children and adults with physical disabilities (cerebral palsy and other neurological disabilities) the skills and strategies needed to function as independently as possible. Founded in Budapest, Hungary in the 1940’s by medical specialist Dr. Andras Petö, who was concerned for the total well-being of children with cerebral palsy, the system is based on a number of beliefs, the foremost of which is a belief that motor disorder is a learning disability to be overcome rather than a condition to be treated.
Conductive Education is different from a treatment model as it aims to teach – how to move, how to learn, how to take responsibility for self, how to be an active participant in the learning process, how to develop the skills necessary to function in the community – how to live.
Conductive Education is a holistic system of education. All aspects of development – physical, cognitive, social and emotional are fostered through carefully-planned, well-structured series of programs which are integrated into a meaningful whole. No area of need is provided for in isolation.
Conductive Education is a group program. Peer pressure and peer affirmation can both be used to encourage the development of skills as well as the development of a high level of self-esteem and worthwhile social interactions.
A major element of Conductive Education is the Task Series. This is a program consisting of a series of tasks that have been carefully planned so that individual needs of all children can be met in the group setting. The programs are not exercise programs – the tasks consist of elements of functional activity and are learned within the context of an enjoyable learning experience. They are then practiced at the appropriate time when the functional skills are required in the course of the child’s day.
Rhythmic Intention is a method devised by Petö and used extensively for learning independent movement. In rhythmic intention the intention is given and the movement is practiced rhythmically either through song or counting. Language and movement are learned together.
Conductive Education is a holistic pedagogy designed to meet the needs of children with cerebral palsy and other neurological disabilities. The disciplines of physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech/language pathology and teaching are integrated into a meaningful whole. CE fosters a belief in every child’s ability to learn, it teaches children to problem solve and to be responsible for themselves, enabling them to be as independent as possible across all areas of development. CE teaches children to be actively involved in the learning process rather than being a passive recipient of therapy or teaching, it promotes personality development and empowers parents to be able to support their child’s development. CE provides effective teaching and learning for individuals in a group setting.
Long Term Benefits of Conductive Education
The group setting facilitates improved awareness, confidence and self-esteem. The children learn self-discipline at a very young age and become emotionally strong. Parents learn the meaning of “Intelligent love” – knowing the importance of when to step back, allowing the child to make their own mistakes and celebrate their own achievements as they establish their own identity.
Increased mobility, dexterity and co-ordination. Children who participate in CE programs have increased endurance, maintain their muscle range, joint flexibility and constantly work on their balance. This aids in reducing the frequency of orthopaedic surgery. The tasks are function based; movements required for daily living. Students spend minimal time in their wheelchairs and do not require hoists and/or frequent lifting, unlike many children with a similar diagnosis.
Improved speech and communication skills. While they are expected to develop speech, children who are non-verbal learn alternative ways to communicate, as it is important to have an array of communication methods.
Enhanced fine motor skills. As part of their daily routine, children must master their mealtime – carrying their lunch box, using a cup, straw; master taking items in and out of tidy boxes, writing or keyboard skills.
Greater independence on every level. CE provides the constant expectation that you will do it yourself. Improved quality of life. The group dynamics develop individuality as children learn to socialise.
Improved overall health and well-being. It is common for children with physical impairments to have related health issues such as lung, bowel and digestive problems. The functional movement of Conductive Education alleviates some of these problems, and therefore improves quality of life.