Professionals discuss what Conductive Education is and who it helps

Conductive Education, often described as rehabilitation through learning, was founded by Dr. Andras Peto in Budapest, Hungary, in 1948. Peto devised this unique, intensive group method of special education, which expects and demands active learning and participation by the child in attempting to overcome his/her motor disability (i.e. cerebral palsy, spina bifida, traumatic brain injury, cerebral vascular accidents, etc.)

Children and adults with a neurological motor disorder have damage to the central nervous system, which affects their ability to control movement and can cause a wide range of developmental difficulties. Skills such as head control, moving around independently, sitting unaided, walking, dressing, eating and drinking, personal hygiene and social and communication skills that are ‘automatic’ for most people have to be consciously learnt.

One of the primary elements of Conductive Education is the group setting. The social context works as a powerful incentive while allowing for individualization and adjustment to personal needs.

The group motivates the individual to complete tasks, encourages accomplishments, and supports confidence and effort. The group has the added benefit of providing an additional strategy to assist in teaching movement by capitalizing on peer–directed learning (e.g. watching how peers get up from a stool to use their walker).

Conductive Education is a practical and successful approach which provides coping mechanisms and techniques to allow children and adults to learn to manage the difficulties caused by their disability. The impact the method has on their lives and the lives of their families is more than a physical one; it also helps to increase their confidence and motivation, helping to develop their personality, feel more positive about their future and their ability to lead independent, fulfilled lives.

The individual’s active learning, within the group, is supported by “rhythmic intention” (e.g. using counting, songs, and rhythmical games) to provide him/her with a basis of normal movement. This engages the individual’s inner language in order to independently voice motor directions to him/herself, and ultimately incorporate these motor patterns into everyday life.

The skills learnt have practical applications which will help them to live more independently at home, school or work. For babies, this can mean learning to control their head movements so they can see what’s around them; for toddlers, simple self-care needs such as eating and dressing themselves; for older children, mastering the grip of a pencil to write their names. Teenagers might be looking for skills to help them cope when they leave home to go to college, university or to pursue a career. Adults to improve their balance to be able to carry on with their day to day chores.

Conductive Education focuses on the whole person, recognizing physical, social, intellectual, and emotional aspects of learning. Your loved one develops autonomy and self–esteem through taking responsibility for their own movement. Focus is on functional skills such as dressing, feeding, and walking.

Conductive Education’s ultimate goal is to create an independent personality, someone who can think for themselves and adapt their learnt skills to any situation, which may arise and within this ‘holistic program’ individuals get the support and learning towards their complex development of the personality.