Susie Mallett

Parent blog

Tuesday 31 July 2012

Hours of hard work rewarded!

'The conductor went shopping for a new jug!'

'Whoops, the cup moved.Never mind.'

'Oh, dear. It moved somemore. What's to do?'

'Start again!'

!I did it!' Now I can show my Mum!'

How is that hard work rewarded?
Overcoming the odds and walking onto the stage to collect a conductive award and looking forward to continuing the hard work.

These are some of the words that are used to describe the conductive life of this young man in the north of England whose achievements are celebrated here —

Memories of rewards

I remember being on the stage last year with my ‘Jolly Professor”, who is ten-years-old.
Despite his parents being led to believe, when he was only three-years-old and before they discovered conductive upbringing, that he would never learn to walk, there he was walking up onto the stage to stand beside me to make a speech of thanks to the President of the association that had provided Conductive Education for him for seven years.

He received help from his Mum to write the speech but he meant every word that he had memorised because he feared he would not be able to follow the words on the paper if he was wobbly on his feet! He got a huge round of applause and there were not many dry eyes in the house.

Public and private appreciation of hard work

These public appearances are so important for our clients to realise the extent of their talents and the results of their hard work. 

Just as important as the public, stage appearances, like the young man’s in England or Jolly Prof’s here in Germany, are the moments when a child shows a mum, their own or someone else’s, that she can pour out her own drink, or shows a grandmother how she needs to be helped so stairs can be climbed independently. 

Every six months we invite parents, family, friends, partners and carers to join us to take part in one of our sessions so they can discover what everyone can do. It is fun but not only that the hard work gets awarded by lots of praise. Most important is that what has been learnt by our visitors gets incorporated in the hard work at home, at work and at play.

Praise indeed at the Summer Fest

We were rewarded by much praise and publicity at the time of the thank-you speech so I was surprised when one of our ‘old parents' approached me and Jolly Prof. six months later at our summer fest.  The 'old parent' was the not so old mother of a son now almost thirty, who was a member of one of our first groups of children to attend Conductive Education in the nineteen nineties. She stopped at our art exhibition for a chat. She told us that she had wandered over as she wanted to tell us that she, and she knows it is the opinion of many others, considers Jolly Prof’s speech, the one he gave months ago, to be the most moving and meaningful part of the whole proceedings.

Praise indeed.

That Mum really knows about the hard work that went into getting up there on that stage. The family mentioned in the newspaper article above know all about it too, as do Jolly Prof.'s family, that of the young girl in the photographs heading the posting, and many more of you.

Well done to you all. Enjoy the results of all that hard work and of the hard work and successes  to come!

Sunday 22 July 2012

Mothers …

'My Grandmother's favourite rose'  by Susie Mallett, Norwich, July 2012

… what would we do without them?

The newest technology makes, what seemed unimaginable just a few years ago, a real possibility. That goes for me, I use Email, Facebook and Skype to keep in contact with my eighty-five-year-old father and for tracing long-lost, distant cousins, I ride a wonderful state of the art cycle, and I long for an ipad to be arty on and to share with my clients too.  I and many others use all sorts of technology to take an active part in all aspects of our everyday life.

There are so many different types of mobile phone, computer, netbook, joysticks and switches available and so many different types of motor-powered wheelchair, bike and tricycle for people with motor disorders to chose from so they too can be just as active as I can, that it is impossible for me as a conductor to advice my clients anymore on what would best fulfil their needs. I need to refer them to the technology experts.

I was so impressed with the use of computer technology and the different pads, joysticks and switches used in a school that I visited last year in England. I am still so grateful for having had this opportunity to see for myself what is available. Through my observations there I now know that no one needs to make do with something that is not suitable for their needs and abilities. There is something out there somewhere to suit everyone, or if there is not, there is definitely an expert out there who is capable of developing it!

On two occasions recently I have watched a young lady trying her hardest to control two different motored powered wheelchairs, practising her skills on the private roads around the conductive centre where I am working. Trying to work out what she needs to be able to drive independently and safely.

I have known this young lady for sixteen years. We met when she was a babe-in-arms and now she is eighteen! She is a conductively brought up young lady and despite her very severe physical disability she is learning to use technology to take her out and about in the world.

A sign of the times

Not many years ago this young ladies life would be much more restricted her boundaries less far afield and certainly less independent. With practise and careful design the makers of her new wheelchair will come up with something that will allow a part of her jerky body, perhaps her fingers, her head or her feet, to steer her where she wishes to go.

When I spoke to her while she tried out the latest design we made a date to meet in the nearest café for a coffee and cake as soon as she could get there alone.

It was wonderful to watch how at eighteen-years-of-age this young lady is beginning to experience the mobility of moving herself from one place to another, completely unaided, for the very first time in her life. It is amazing to watch her and also to visualise what a world of new experiences and emotions that this development, with use of up to date technology, is going to open up to her. Her life will soon be transformed by a learning process that usually takes place when a toddler begins to take those very first steps towards independence.

It is never too late to learn

What would this young lady do without the amazing mum who she has beside her, and her Grandma who is always there for the practise runs?

Mum told me that with each new wheelchair that they have had to try out the first thing that she has done is to sit in it and take herself off to town. Not only does she ride the ten kilometres to town but she also does test runs around town, using the trams and the underground too.

When I heard this I was flabbergasted and really impressed. I had never dared to do this in all the years that I was with my wheelchair-user partner. I had used his chair around the house and to go to the local shop but never dared to travel such a great distance. I had never really tested how it is in the real world to travel with a disability, only as a carer.

This mum knew how each of the test-wheelchairs would function in whatever situation she and her daughter would come across while travelling in town. She knew how every bump in the pavement, kerb on the road and step into the tram would help or hinder her daughter’s freedom to travel.

The search goes on

A decision cannot be made too quickly. The health insurance will not pay for another new wheelchair for many years to come so the choice has to be right first time.

Whenever Mum, Grandma and daughter are on the road outside the centre making another test-run then the conductors are out in force with encouragement and praise, and also watching with just a little bit of awe at the determination of all three of these extraordinary ladies who are determined to take the technology of today to its limits.

Monday 16 July 2012

Working with adults

This is the first picture that I have been given that depicts conductive action. That is me on the right with grey hair holding on to a plinth. The picture was produced by three siblings, one of them has a motor disorder and has attended our groups for seven of his tens years. 

Joy in my soul

I realised at the weekend that my arm is getting better. Then I realised this morning how much I love my work, especially when I come back to life again after having felt poorly for a while.

Today was the second session with a new client.

He has a degenerative nerve disorder that is extremely rare. It has been diagnosed for several years but it is only now that he has sought us out, now that the symptoms are worrying him, causing him to have a heavy soul. He is concerned about the future and wishes to change something.

He had phoned me several months ago. We had a long chat on the phone and I sent him some information on conductive pedagogy. I also sent him the dates of the next adult's groups and, as he is working full time and has a young family I then left it to him to contact me when he had decided whether he wished to take part in any sessions with us.

Chatting on trains

Finding out about Conductive Education is never easy, but if you are Hungarian perhaps it is easier than for others. Although often, whatever nationality you are, discovering CE is accidental.

This was also the case for my client. His wife is Hungarian. She was on a train from or to Hungary when she just happened to strike up a conversation with a conductor who had been working in the conductive centre Würzburg where I have often worked myself. It is not many miles away from Nürnberg, my client’s, and my, home town.

I do not know how long ago that conversation between the conductor and the wife had taken place, perhaps as much as a year. My client told me that he decided to pick up the phone and call me when some symptoms, for example losing balance when putting on his shoes, began to have a significant influence on his everyday life.

Individual sessions

As I always say, we offer our clients what we consider best for them, what they consider best for themselves but, also what we can offer at that given moment in time.

Yes, it is a coincidence that there is no group available to offer this client a group session on the day of the week when he has time, but it has turned out to be a lucky coincidence.

I realised today, at our second individual meeting, that I could not do this work so well if this client were part of a group.

The symptoms that my client has are significant enough to have an effect on his life, but the movement disorders that cause the symptoms are so small that I wonder whether I would spot them if I was working with him in a group of six other clients. My observation skills have been put to the test today and I have been delighted by the success of our work together.

Together we go through a range of movements correcting them and trying to make them as exact as possible. Often, almost in the same breath, we both then describe the symptom that the errors of movement could cause.

My client then immediately adjusts his movements and tries again, and the transformation is immediate, not just in his movement but also in his face. He is beginning to understand what is happening within his body that could cause the difficulties he has experienced and he is learning, at what seems like lightning speed, what to do so that he has control once again over his own body.

We discuss all the opportunities during his day when he can be more aware of each of the things we have practised. He already has a very busy day so he is happy that a conductive lifestyle means adjusting and transforming daily living and not a two-hour daily exercise programme.

Now, as he kneels down to play with his three-year-old daughter on the floor, he does so with more conscious awareness of what it is that had previously caused him to fall. He does the same when standing up again. When he cleans his teeth, now with his left hand, walks to the car, sits or stands at the office, he is conscious of each and every movement, from the muscles moving under his feet as he attempts to stand on one foot to put on his shoes, to the tilt of his head as he takes a step sideways. He now knows that there are many aspects of his posture and his movements that can all affect his balance.

Making the transformations

My client walked in the room today with a smile on his face, and his first sentence was –
‘I am walking much better since last week.’ 

Then he went on to tell me why. 

There was joy in his soul as he told me and most important was the fact that he realised that he has the opportunity to take some control over what is happening to his body, he just has to learn how to make this transformation.

There was not just joy in my client’s soul today, but there was joy in mine too. 

I told him how much I am enjoying this work with him. I find it so challenging observing the smallest changes in movement and abilities, and suggesting and trying out ideas with him. Best of all I love to watch as he quickly transforms his movements from movements that had disabled him into movements that enable him. 

Enable him to carry on enjoying life, at work and at home.   

I look forward very much to next Monday morning.