A Journey with Love and Laughter

Read about our family as we journey through life as a family, with siblings, school and spina bifida, and lots of fun and laughter along the way!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Conductive Education

Apparently I've been thinking about conductive education for a while, ever since I first heard about it in February 2010 - and blogged about it. And if I do say so myself, I feel I became famous for it! Or at least my blog was quoted by a conductive educator blogger in the UK! How weird is that - collecting information about spina bifida and conductive education (CE) and reading about your own blog!

Some things that came out of myself reading comments about my blog (and I wish the writer would have commented to me!) was that yes, I did have to pursue this type of therapy. Yes, Nick will be the first child with spina bifida who is going to this center. But now our little Ontario SB community certainly knows that there is something called conductive education.
AND I talked to the developmental pediatrician (Dr Church - who we love) about conductive education. She knew what it was, and could see the application to spina bifida. Other people I have asked (mainly PT) did not know alot about it.

We had our consult at March of Dimes yesterday.
I was very impressed by what I learned and saw and how Nick reacted.
You see Nick hates therapy. He hates having to work and being taken away from mommy and made to work. He will work, he will just protest. Very loudly.
None of that today, or at least very minimal.

At March of Dimes we saw 2 conductors who went over what they do, what Nick is doing and see what he could do.
I must admit I hate the questions - what is he doing, what is he working on, tell me about him. I get so flustered and all I can think about is what he isn't doing, and really don't want to say those things.

But let me step back.

What exactly is conductive education?
I'm going to apologize ahead of time that this kinda sounds like a school paper, but I'm trying to educate myself, family, friends and readers who might have no idea what I'm talking about (but are interested to learn).

Most of this information I'm taking from http://www.marchofdimes.ca/EN/programs/CE/Pages/WhatIsCE.aspx and the horrible wikipedia actually has some uses! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conductive_education

Conductive education is a learning process for children who have motor difficulties secondary to a neurological condition (i.e. cerebral palsy, but spina bifida also fits nicely).  They steer away from words like 'work' and 'therapy' and use concepts like 'tasks' and 'process'. Instead of working on physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy separately, Conductive Education motivates participants to develop confidence and skills in movement, speech and cognitive abilities at the same time!

It is not a one-size-fits-all, but is personalized and motivational. There is also a focus on daily living, motivation and purposeful movement. This is a learning approach to allow Nickolas to problem solve, and to learn strategies to apply to his life and get what he wants.

The key principles of CE are:
1. The child is a unified whole. Again this is the principle behind holistic care. Everything is connected
2. Targets the whole personality.
3. Activity and intention. Active participation is required, everything is intentional.
4. Continuity and consistency. The importance of reinforcement, and every situation is a learning experience

As I nurse I LOVE reading these principles! Holistic was a key concept in my nursing education!

The program we are interested in has specific focuses on:
  • Independence
  • Position changes
  • Range and activity of movement
  • Gross and fine motor control
  • Weight bearing in all positions
  • Concentration, focus, communication and problem solving

 Some other things that I really liked about what I saw/heard/read is the importance of a fun atmosphere. Motivation is considered, it is also in a group, alongside Nick's peers (WOW - kids his age who also have to work extra hard at things!).
There is game playing and activities. With the use of Rhythm (break down tasks into small, achievable segments to think about movement while using rhythm, music, repetition and counting.)

It was initially developed for children with cerebral palsy in Hungary over 50 years ago! It is not as common in North America, but seems to be gaining more notoriety. The March of Dimes has been doing conductive education for a while with kids and adults with cerebral palsy. Nick will be the first child with spina bifida.
(the 2 previous group pictures I got from http://www.steptogether.org.uk/ NOT from March of Dimes, to show how I expect the classes to go).

March of Dimes has a parent/child workshop coming up at the end of summer; August 22 - September 2 (this is 2 weeks of classes, 3 hours a day Mon-Fri). I can't wait to get Nick in that room!
Insurance and OHIP does not cover the cost. It will be about $850 for the 2 weeks. Out of pocket. But I really think Nick will get alot out of it.

Even from just watching how Nick reacted during the consultation I think this will be a good thing for Nickolas.
By the end of the class Nick was interacting with the conductors, wanting to go on the floor and work, wanting to play and keep going! It did not happen right away, Nick did have some tense moments and needed some mommy cuddles during the hour, but they were very, very patient.

To see more pictures of what they do, you can look at their latest newsletter here!
Hope you learned something and weren't bored silly!


  1. Have you looked into grants for alternative therapies? Lewis just received one that will pay for a 3 week session of Conductive Ed. It's worth looking into!

  2. Hey how old do the participants have to be, is there any age limits? Sounds really interesting, I would love to do something like that with Alejandra! Who can I contact to find out if she will qualify?

  3. LOL! SO WEIRD that you were quoted way over there without any contact. So glad to hear it went well. I wish they had something like that here that we could test out. Can't wait to hear how the program goes for you and Nick!