Cerebral Palsy and Conductive Education
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Children with cerebral palsy often benefit from alternative forms of education, geared towards kids with special needs. Conductive education, which is specifically designed for children with neurological and motor disorders, has shown great promise for many kids with cerebral palsy.
About Conductive Education
Conductive education is a multi-disciplinary approach to educating children with cerebral palsy and other neurological and motor disorders. It was created and developed in Hungary, in 1945 by Dr. Andras Peto.
According to Peto, disabled children can overcome their limitations with indirect teaching and learning. Teaching children is focused on their personalities and learning style, instead of a more traditional and group-oriented approach offered through public schools’ special education programs.
Conductive education focuses on allowing kids to see themselves as self-reliant, regardless of how many limitations the world tells them they have. It also helps children develop an “ortho- functioning personality,” meaning it helps them achieve educational and daily living goals via nurturance and developing a teaching plan that centers around the child and their likes/dislikes.
Although conductive education is not medical-based, it does integrate medical knowledge into learning methods that help teach children how to gain control over their movements and encourages self care.
Principle Points of Conductive Education
According to the Conductive Education and Professional Education Group (CEPEG), the main principles and goals of conductive education include:
- Neurological disorders not being seen as limiting factors; everyone has the ability to learn and thrive
- The child’s interest comes first when learning
- Children can choose their own intentions when learning and solve their own challenges
- Social interaction is an important part on conductive education
Skills emphasized in conductive education include:
- Playing together successfully
- Physical functioning
Unlike traditional therapies in which adaptive equipment may be used to help children move about, conductive education generally avoids these devices and sees them as a way of hindering the child’s natural progression and leading to a more passive attitude.
Who Teaches Conductive Education?
Educators known as conductors are responsible for teaching conductive education. According to the Association for Conductive Education in North America (ACENA), conductors generally have a Bachelor’s degree, with an elementary teaching certification, along with special education endorsement for physically impaired children. Additional qualifications may be needed depending on the organization.
A conductor is responsible for carrying out the principles of CE, including cultivating an ortho- functioning personality in each child via activities that enhance the child’s movements, speech, and thoughts. This is provided in a group setting that follows a daily routine so that the child can learn how a real world routine helps them find their strengths, likes, and dislikes. Additionally, children may learn the concept of rhythmic intention, or alternate ways to complete tasks via language, music, and rhythm.
Conductive education covers a variety of educational needs for children with cerebral palsy:
- Self-care lessons include learning to chew correctly, drink correctly, eat with a spoon, toilet training, and how to dress and undress without assistance
- Communication lessons include how to make sounds, proper breathing techniques, drool reduction, and how to articulate words
- Motor lessons include learning to stretch limbs properly, improving head control and balance, hand-eye coordination, grasping skills, and more
- Social lessons include interacting positively with peers, participation in group activities, and lessons in boosting confidence and self-esteem
- A variety of educational topics in accordance with the child’s age and abilities
Where to Find a Conductive Education Center
Although conductive education is more prevalent in the UK when compared to the U.S., over the past decade its presence has become more prominent in the U.S.. However, you may run into obstacles when trying to find a conductive education center (depending on where you live) as there are not centers in every city. One of the easiest ways to find out if there is a location near you is to refer to ACENA’s location directory.