A place to show my love for my granddaughter who lives with Cerebral Palsy and my passion for painting. In an effort of raising awareness for C.P. every painting brush stroke I make on raw canvas is a stroke of love, as I discretely paint a green C.P. awareness ribbon in every piece. Can you find them?
Do you know someone who would like to have a painting done? email www.harrold.janet@gmail.com

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Painting of Sofia and Carter

It's been a little while since I have painted, and it sure feels good to be back at it. This beautiful little girl Sofia also has C.P. She has been going to The Conductive Education Centre in Halifax, N.S. Canada She had been taking classes with Ben and his mom Cary from about the small stuff Cary mentioned to her about my raising money for Hailey to go to The Conductive Learning Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan, she contacted me to paint this lovely shot of Sofia and her cousin Carter making music together at the piano. I sure hope she likes it! Our goal of getting Hailey to Conductive Education is getting closer and closer. We have started the application process and if accepted she may be attending the May-June session this year! If any of you are thinking that you would like a 16 x20 of your child painted in oil for $100.00, now is the time to contact me. This offer may change in the near future. contact me at harrold.janet@gmail.com

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Conductors Point of View on Conductive Upbringing

My next guest blogger is Viktoria, she is a Conductor and now a step mom to beautiful India who has C.P. India is very fortunate to have someone with such expertise love and care for her, but if you ask Viktoria I am sure that she will tell you that she is the lucky one.

Thanks to Janet for this great opportunity to share. My name is Viktoria and I trained as a conductor-teacher 12 years ago. Since then, I traveled to and worked in several countries and worked with hundreds of disabled children and their families. I feel that each time at each place I’ve leant more than I’ve ever dreamed to be able to teach—not just about my profession, or disability, but about people. After ten years of traveling I settled in the USA with my fiancée, who—as life has it—has a daughter who has cerebral palsy. So it happened that I got to practice what I preach!
My fiancée’s daughter is 12, and she’s beautiful. Her name is India. She started going to conductive education camps when she was little, having to travel states and countries; now she goes to a regular school and is raised at home the conductive way. This is called conductive upbringing—something that I can’t describe without first explaining what it is NOT.

I apologize that I do have to complain here. It’s almost impossible to find useful information about conductive education on the internet (“conductive upbringing” is the correct translation of the original Hungarian term; “conductive pedagogy” is the pedagogy behind what is a way of parenting and a way of life). Almost everything that one finds after a Google search of “conductive education” is laden with capital errors and very confusing misinformation. Please don’t believe for a second, regardless of how many websites, parent or professional blogs, discussion forums etc. are trying to explain you that conductive education is a “therapy”, “alternative therapy”, “holistic method” or anything anywhere near these: conductive education has NOTHING to do with medicine, (neither “conventional” nor “alternative”), it has no place in medical journals, and no self-respecting medical professional should ever try to analyze pedagogy as if it was some kind of cure for an illness!

Doctors are incredibly useful. They might have saved your child’s life. Their opinion is relevant when it comes to their area of expertise: diagnosing and treating medical conditions. A lot of children with brain injuries have one or more of those underlying medical issues that do need medical attention and various interventions. However, their opinion about your parenting skills and pedagogy in general is not more relevant than anybody else’s as these are usually not their area of expertise. Pedagogy is a social science.

The confusion about conductive education has several reasons and it has been around since the beginning (conductive pedagogy has been around for several decades, but was hiding in Hungary behind the iron curtain until the 1980s). One of the reasons may be that the brain or spinal cord injury that causes the disability is usually acquired in circumstances that include accidents, hospitals, doctors; so one is likely to search for the solution there, and assume that if the injury is in the central nervous system, then the central nervous system has to be “doctored” in some way to eliminate the disability. The problem with this is that it is unfortunately not possible to do this. The injury to the brain or spinal cord is final and irreversible—any doctor knows this, even first-year medical students, and they are likely to tell you about this—hence the impression that “there’s nothing that can be done”. The doctor may even warn you of “certain elements” that may play on your despair, use your misfortune to sell you products and interventions that promise to reverse these injuries and that your longing for hope may dupe you into going for these (these are called “quack therapies”, and include stem cell therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, magnetic therapy and many more). The doctor is right; regardless of what any of these charlatans claim, irreversible injuries remain irreversible.

The good news is that this doesn’t mean that nothing can be done. The way the disabled child is brought up will make all the difference between an inactive, helpless, dependent child and the active, motivated, independent one: that’s your power as a parent. The upbringing you provide, the opportunities you give your child to learn, to participate, to help themselves are all going to make the exact same impact as they would if your child didn’t have a disability. You wouldn’t question your impact in case of your typical child, why would you do that in case of your disabled child?

Conductive education schools, camps, or conductors who work directly with your family all serve the purpose of teaching you, the parent how to teach your child just about anything: how to motivate, encourage and help them to move, reach for toys, learn ways to change their place, to play, to communicate, to eat, to wash, etc.; how to organize your day so that you can fit everything in that you need to fit in; how to deal with funky behaviors and so on. It is a complete lifestyle “package” that is based entirely on common sense (which makes it incredibly difficult to describe!) Parents who are lead to believe by someone for some reason that conductive education is some sort of alternative movement therapy based on repetitive exercises superior/inferior to physical therapy loose out because even if they participate, they will not be able to raise their child in a conductive way therefore benefits, if any, will be marginal.

Pedagogy is a science but you don’t get the same quantitative proofs you get with Math. While studying to be a conductor, one learns a lot about the history of pedagogy, theories that came and went over the centuries and decades, theories that might have affected the birth of this very complex education system. However, conductive education is not based on any set scientific theories, it is just based on the aforementioned common sense and easily observable everyday facts: teaching might cause learning; more/better teaching might cause more/better learning; what you don’t even try, you may never learn; if you really want to learn something and you try, you may eventually learn it even if it seems against the odds at first; solving an impossible-to-solve complex task may become possible if it’s broken down to simple tasks and solved one after each; I could go on and on. There is almost nothing in conductive education that wouldn’t be observable in the way an average good family raises their kids or an average good teacher manages their classroom, but what is unusual about conductive education for the newcomer is that these everyday routines, parenting and teaching methods and techniques are applied to a broader population: disabled kids involved. This extreme simplicity of conductive education is what makes it so very difficult to understand for most. The results seem unbelievable because the disabled children do eventually end up learning and doing things they couldn’t do before, so everyone thinks there are some great and advanced scientific discoveries or “brain tissue recovery” and “brain rewiring” involved, while there is nothing like that. It’s the nature of people that they’re looking for explanations and it’s hard to accept that a major achievement of a disabled child is just a result of simple teaching and learning and not “healing”. That’s why we see a lot of descriptions of conductive education that try to make sense of it by providing these medical-style explanations of healing brains, but I can assure everyone that none of those are correct and every time you see one of those just click and go to the next page, because you’re wasting your precious time.

You should also quickly dismiss your source of information if you hear that you have to go to Hungary to get “real” conductive education, or that your child has to be in a group, or that you have to purchase the “original” wooden furniture that has been in use in conductive classrooms in Hungary. The truth is that you can learn to become a conductive parent in a very wide range of circumstances: if there’s a conductive education school near you where your child can attend full time that is really a lucky situation, but if there isn’t you can still try to attend one of the summer camps or you can try and get a conductor to come to your house a few times a year to teach your family. When this conductor got to know your family and your situation, you can even cut back on the costs of travel and whatnot and ask for their help using Skype and a webcam, at least some of the time.

If you become a conductive parent you can raise your child the conductive way and provide conductive upbringing at home. That’s the whole point. Being a conductive parent means that you are a conductive parent at all times, morning, noon and night, in the sitting room, kitchen, bathroom, car, park and at the grocery store, not only at specially allocated times and places. It means that you’re aware that your child’s disability is not an illness that’s awaiting the cure so that he can become a whole person, but that he’s already a whole person, and he’s a lifetime learner like everyone else. You as a conductive parent are also a lifetime learner like everyone else and you’re constantly learning and discovering ways to help your child’s learning.

There’s a lot more to say, but I’ll leave it here for now. I would like everyone to know that it’s worth to be a conductive parent. It initially seems more work and may be emotionally hard—there are times when you don’t help your child, you let them struggle and that may make you feel bad at first—but you can expect a payoff soon. Children can be very well aware of their achievements and that can make them feel really happy. That’s how India’s father hooked on: after he got a glimpse of what his supposedly helpless little girl could do and the huge smiles that even struggles and tears eventually ended up in, he never looked back. Not many people do.

Thank you to Viktoria for sharing with us a Conductors Perspective on C.E. you can read more about her and India at Conductive Upbringing

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Guest Post from Cary on Conductive Education

As previously posted I have asked a few of my blogger friends to share their experiences with me on Conductive Education. Cary is my first guest blogger. Many of you may not know Cary, but you have seen her son on my blog before. After all, I have painted not one but three paintings of her beautiful twin boys Ben and Danial. Ben has C.P. and has recently returned back from the Conductive Education Center in Canada and Cary was kind enough to share her experience as well as give us lots of good information. Please show her some love by visiting her blog where she blogs about her families life with twins, one who happens to have Cerebral Palsy at

If anyone else has an experience that they would like to share, please email me

Background Information:

Hi. My name is Cary and I’m a mom to 3 year-old twins, Benjamin and Daniel. Ben has
Spastic Diplegia Cerebral Palsy. For him, this means that his gross motor skills are very
delayed, but his fine motor, speech and cognitive abilities are on target with a typically-
developing 3-year-old. Ben crawls, pulls to stand and cruises along furniture. He also
walks very well with a posterior walker and has even figured out how to run and jump
with it.

Conductive Education Centre Information:

Ben has done 3 one-week intensive Conductive Education sessions at the CE Centre
in Halifax, NS, Canada. The Centre is part of the Conductive Education Canada
program through The March of Dimes Canada. This is a very small centre with only one
Conductor…but that one Conductor is amazing!

The first one-week session that Ben did was done one-on-one with no other “students”.
The last 2 sessions were done with one other “student”, a 4-year-old girl who is very
similar to Ben.

Because this centre is so small, it is possible to choose the type of session you want to do.
Some students do intensive one-or-two-week sessions whereas others do sessions once or
twice each week. Since we live over 2 hours away, we choose to do intensive week-long
sessions, with a 2-hour session each day.

The cost of a session with Conductive Education Canada is subsidized by The March of
Dimes Canada. This results in a HUGE savings. Without the subsidy, the hourly rate is
over $150, but with the subsidy, we only pay $39 per hour. WOW!

Halifax-Area Information

Halifax, NS is very easy to access from anywhere in Canada as well as the eastern
seaboard of the United States. It has a good-sized international airport with flights from
Toronto, Montreal, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago and more.

The following hotels in Halifax offer suites:

Marriott Residence Inn
Cambridge Suites Hotel Halifax
Hampton Inn & Suites - Dartmouth

We have stayed at both the Marriott Residence Inn as well as the Cambridge Suites.
However, most recently we stayed with Ben’s classmate and her Mom at their vacation
home in Wolfville, NS. Wolfville is a beautiful college town an hour from the Centre.
For information on their vacation rental, check out their VRBO listing.

My Take on Conductive Education

Ben thrives while we are doing an intensive session of Conductive Education. He
loves his Conductor and classmate and really enjoys all the “play” that the Conductor
organizes for them to do. While Ben is there, I notice immediate results. He sits up
straighter, moves better and works extremely hard. Having a classmate is EXTREMELY
motivating for Ben. I personally find an hour PT session exhausting both physically and
emotionally. However, a 2-hour CE session doesn’t feel that way at all. At times it can
be exhausting, but I find it exhilarating at the same time.

At his last session, Ben worked on the following:

Putting on and taking off his own shoes and braces
Transitions from walking to sitting, sitting to laying down and the other way
Sitting nice and tall without slouching
How to fall forward safely instead of falling backwards
Independent standing
Walking with pediatric canes
And much, much more

All of this is done in a fun way that Ben LOVES!

After we get home from a CE session, my husband is constantly pointing out new things
that Ben is doing. And my response is always something like “Oh…we worked on
something similar to that at CE.”

Sunday, January 16, 2011

"Hailey I Believe In You"

I believe in you.
Your impetuous determination tells me
that you will never give up.
You have so much to give,
and have given so much already.
I believe that you will stand tall.
We are beside you, and will always be.
There is no rush, so take it slow, one step at a time.
We are ready when you are.

Anyone who follows my blog knows that we do have a goal of bringing Hailey to Conductive Education. I am not even going to attempt to explain what that means exactly in this post. It is a bit confusing and complex to explain and that I will leave up to the experts. The next few blog posts will be dedicated to Conductive Education so that you can get a better understanding from families who have brought their children to CE as well as Conductors who have dedicated their lives to Conductive Upbringing. I hope you learn and comment as well as ask questions if you have them.
I have been corresponding and getting lots of great tips for Hailey from a Conductor who lives in Germany. Susie Mallett has given us lots of great ideas to help Hailey with her core strength and strengthening her neck, sitting independently and making suggestions so that we can begin to develop a conductive lifestyle. She is an inspiration and going to be doing a guest post here real soon. She has also recently written a book, I have taken these words off of the back cover.
I am a British conductor living and working in Germany, and I write the Conductor blog.
I write about conductive upbringing rather than “”Conductive Education”.
I write for myself, for young conductors, and for families with children who are together on the long, long road of following a conductive life style, or who are just embarking on one. I write too for disabled adults and their families. Maybe some of my postings will be useful to you.
You can find out more about this on Susie's blog http://www.susie-mallett.com/
Check back often for posts on Conductive Educating/Upbringing and if you are a parent who would like to share your personal experience in this series, please email me at harrold.janet@gmail.com

Thursday, January 13, 2011

"say it with symbols"

“say it with symbols”
(my new favorite special needs resource)

Imagine not being able to say “help” or “i’m hungry” being able to speak is something that most of us take for granted everyday. If you have a child who is non verbal or has difficulty with speech then you know how challenging communication can be. It can also be scary as well as frustrating.
With today's technology, some of us are fortunate enough to have the ipad. The Proloquo2Go app provides a full-featured communication solution for people who have difficulty speaking. It brings natural sounding text-to-speech voices, up-to-date symbols. No doubt about it ,it is getting rave reviews, we are lucky to have one for Hailey. My only disappointment so far is that the symbols it has for communication are not the Mayer Johnson symbols that Hailey has been using since she started speech therapy with early intervention a few years ago. I hope it doesn’t get too confusing for her. She does however have the Dynavox, this computer does use the Mayer Johnson symbols. She uses it mostly at school. For those of you who use the Dynavox, you know that it is a great communication device. A little heavy and not so easy to lug around everywhere you need to go. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have one of these either.
A Great Solution:
I’d like to tell you about a site I have come to love www.sayitwithsymbols.com This site has so many useful things to offer and the prices are much more affordable.. I especially like the pre made communication books.
These books are light weight, colorful, and portable. They are a great solution for making choices. Because our kids need to communicate anywhere and everywhere, this book is a great solution for communicating on the go. It is a great back-up for high tech devices.Very useful at restaurants, at the park or at grandmas house.
Another item that I really love is the Board books photo album. All kids love to see pictures of themselves or favorite people and places.
The album has sturdy cardboard pages and notches have been added to the page edges to make it easy for those with motor skill problems to turn the page. There is even plenty of room to write your own story.
Become a fan on facebook http://www.facebook.com/SayitwithSymbols i’ve seen them give great discounts and even give away FREE communication boards!


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