The therapy he is having in Adelaide is Conductive Education Therapy.
But, what does that even mean?
Peto's father suffered from Parkinson's Disease, and spent his life in a wheelchair. While studying, Peto lived with another family, who had a child with cerebral palsy.
Peto developed the Conductive Education concept during the war, when Hitler wanted to kill everyone who had a disability.
In 1945, Peto started working with children with mobility problems, helping them learn new skills and develop new independence.
Working as the head of several clinics and health institutes, Peto never took money from his patients. He got his money from other areas, including advertising revenue produced from a newspaper he published.
In 1950, Peto formed his first Institute of the Motor Impaired centre, which catered to 80 people. Sixty four years later, across the other side of the world,
Dexter is benefiting from the ideas of Dr Peto.
Very briefly, Conductive Education is a learning process. Dexter is being taught new skills. He will need to work hard, to learn the new skills, so he can then use them in every day life. The three goals Dexter is working towards are:
- More independence in feeding and drinking
- Improvement in sitting, and getting himself into a sitting position
- Development of communication skills, both through oral language and communication devices, such as ipads and computers.
This is costing us just under $3000.
Dexter will attend the centre four mornings a week, for four weeks.
Dexter is in a group with only three other children.
There is an adult with each child, and sometimes, two adults are with one child.
We were able to use funding from Melissa's fundraiser to help cover the cost of the therapy. In a strange twist, our accommodation costs more than Dexter's time at the Future Footprints Conductive Education Centre!
On Dexter's first morning, he worked so hard he was asleep and snoring almost the instant he sat in his car seat. We're so proud of him, and his efforts.
Read about Dexter's first day here.
Conductive education is a complex education system for children and adults with neurological disorders such as Cerebral Palsy, Multiple Sclerosis, Spina Bifida, Parkinson’s, stroke related disabilities, and acquired brain injuries.
Conductive education focuses on the skills needed to become more independent. It combines medical knowledge and educational methods to enable individuals to learn (or re-learn) how to gain control of his/her motor functions. Although the neural pathways have been damaged, the nervous system possesses the capacity to form new neural connections and this can be facilitated through a suitably instructed teaching and learning process.
Using a typical age appropriate education curriculum, or 'motivation', Conductive education uses music, rhythm and repetition to 'teach' the individual each new skill, rather than direct manipulation. This way independence is reached on two levels.
Firstly, Conductive education requires effort from the individual. Any improvement in ability comes only as a result of hard work. Therefore, it is a tremendous boost to self-confidence each time a goal is reached.
Secondly, by teaching someone how to sit, stand, walk with basic equipment, there is greater freedom. Conductive education recognises that whilst accessible environments should be promoted it is equally as important to teach individuals how to better adapt to their environment. It is not always possible to change an environment to suit a disability. As the old saying goes, if you give a man a fish, he eats for a day. If you teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime.
Conductive education also seeks to teach both children and families problem solving skills. As every individual is different, and every disability is different, unique and sometimes unconventional, ways of accomplishing motor tasks need to be found.