What is Conductive Education?

Conductive Education (CE) is an educational program created to teach children and adults with motor disorders, such as but not limited to, Cerebral Palsy, Spina Bifida, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, stroke or head injury, spontaneous skills and problem solving tasks through an intensive multi-disciplinary approach to achieve an independent life. CE enables an individual with motor disabilities to become self-reliant in daily activities through active learning. By repetition of tasks and combining intentional movements with learning, the brain creates different paths for sending messages to the muscle groups and thus creates desired movements, like walking, standing, sitting and self feeding. The independence gained through the teaching of Conductive Education is not just limited to physical achievements but includes, communication, academic, social and emotional development, also. Conductive Education searches for ways to develop structured movement in each motor disabled person based on the premise that even though the human body has limitations the mind does not.

History of Conductive Education

Dr. Andras Peto, a physician and educator, developed Conductive Education in Hungary in 1945. His method pioneered a new way to rehabilitate children and adults with motor disabilities due to damages to the central nervous system. While other children learn physical movement through assimilation within their peer groups, the motor disordered child must be taught to develop these same movements as a skill set. Dr. Peto believed that problems of movement were due to problems of learning and that an individual with a motor disability could learn and develop functional movement through active participation in motor tasks. These tasks break down complex movements into more achievable parts which leads to functional movement and greater independence. Conductive Education bases its approach to teaching, that, despite damage to the central nervous system the nervous system still has the ability to create new neural connections and through a proper guidance and learning process this capacity can be realized. That is why Dr. Peto termed this learning process “conductive”. (See www.peto.hu for more information.)

Conductor-teachers “orchestrate” the child’s learning by integrating movement with communicative, cognitive and sensory learning. Using music, games and apparatus that aid movement and the student’s desire to achieve simple tasks, children develop and maximize functional independence through goal-directed activity, verbal cues, and group dynamics. An individual uses speech or inner speech to express an intention, and then carries it out through rhythmic movement. This use of language facilitates and regulates motor activity and focuses attention on the movement. The individual becomes an active participant in learning; completing tasks designed to build self-esteem and self-sufficiency. The result being a more independent and fulfilling life for individuals with disabilities.

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