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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Oh what small (conductive) world…

So this week has been rather interesting. I am steadily making small but important and good connections. This weekend alone I met two conductors living in close proximity from me. One lives in Seattle and one lives in Kelowna, BC. It is always fascinating for me to meet new conductors – in isolated Manitoba I meet only one (my friend and colleague) within four years. Most amazingly you know straight away that you are at the same wavelength and you have a common goal, which is just being able to keep working as a conductor. One of the conductors has not really worked as one in Seattle and the other one is forced to travel around North America to make a living. It is very interesting to know that none of us wants to get rich on it but just be able to do what we love and we are good at while living of it.

General speaking, we conductors are quite spoilt when it comes to the conditions we work in. We usually fly in whatever country gives us a decent salary and other quite handy bonuses and stay as long as we want to or as long as there are is money to pay for us. Usually when you are willing to travel it is not hard to find a job that suits your conditions. Mostly parents of children with a movement disorder did all the lobbying required to promote and set up a conductive education program, usually in form of a charity.

Now being self-employed is a total different story. You find yourself rather isolated and the lack of professional support or understanding outside the conductive education walls is more apparent then it ever has been. It is hard to let parents and also adults who have a movement disorder that conductive education services are available in their area. In Manitoba about 80%, if not more, new clients enrolled because they have heard from other parents and clients how it has helped them. Starting from scratch is different because you do not have those clients who can refer you easily. It was interesting to hear from the other two conductors that they have tried to approach child development centers in their area and have been rejected to even display some brochures. It is strange but not entirely news to me as I have meet plenty parents who would love to know about this as an option, earlier in their child’s live.

But do not worry I will try anyway to get the word out. I have already successfully made contacts with some great Stroke support groups in this area, who are willing to let me a give a small presentation. I am excited to see what those will bring, especially as I have not given any presentations since I was at University and even then was not necessary a natural at it. When you self employed you do what you have to, to get the word out and I know that this will be an interesting learning curve for me.

One of the parents I met this week is very interested in coming to Vancouver for an intensive week program for her 18 month old son. This would only makes sense if there is a small learning group, so I will need more interested families to make this happen. If you do know someone at this age (up to three years might be okay too) who could benefit from Conductive Education and either lives or is willing to come to Vancouver for a week, please contact me.

Talking about being on the same wavelength, last week I found a great new yoga studio for myself. Since I started yoga I met a lot of nice people on my way with whom I found it easy to relate to and made some good friendships this way. Today, I found myself having a great conversation about Conductive Education and how it encourages activity and problem solving. The yoga teacher had no problem relating to it through her experiences even though she never worked with anyone with a movement disorder. It is funny as I must have had the same or similar conversation with other professionals before, who had little clue what I was talking about. I don’t know if it’s the yoga, the teacher in her or her own upbringing made it so easy to relate to me but it made me feel great.

With meeting her and those two conductors this weekend, I am very thankful to be sharing the same wavelength with strangers and for the support of the parents out here. It’s a start and it’s a good one.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

It’s an educational thing!

Friday, we (James Forliti and I) went to the Cerebral Palsy Association AGM to make some contacts. This went relatively well, even though I have rediscovered that I am not the mingling kind, but I am working on it.

Few numbers

There were about 30 people in the beginning and approximately 4 new faces (a professional who gave a speech, family of the grant recipient from last year and me). To be honest, I was rather surprised to see mainly adults with CP or parents who now cared for adults with CP; and except for James, no parents of young children with CP.

After listening to what was going on throughout the year and how the money of the charity was spent, I was no longer surprised. There was hardly any real support that charity was able to fund. Except for socializing during the board meeting, awareness sessions in isolated groups, providing information to some interested parties and an annual post-secondary grant to high-school students with CP, there was not much more they could offer.

The number of the membership intake indicated that there only 25 active members; 25 people in the whole province of British Columbia, crazy. The conversation about how to raise public awareness and getting heard by the wider public sounded all too familiar to me. And strangely the vicious circle was obvious to spot from the outside. To get more members you need a wider range of services, which costs money; to get a wider range of services you need members who bring money and contacts in.


Another thing that fascinated me was the presentation of a doctor who introduced her new Spasticity clinic. Fascinating not because I learned something particularly new about spasticity, but moreso I learned why CE would not work in a clinic like this. There are all sorts of professionals at the clinic who all look at the client at the same time and have a meeting about their collaborative treatment plan. This clinic claims to have a holistic service. Yes, holistic it is, but only when looking at spasticity and neglecting the rest of the person.

I always knew that Conductive Education doesn’t look at the person from a medical point of view like most professionals do (even schools with all those policies do this !) but from an educational perspective. I never realized until today what it means for the parents and caregivers. Yes, I am generalizing and I might get slaughtered for it but I also might just have a point.

So if you have a child with CP and you are new to this, you turn to professionals who know better. Those professionals can help you quite accurately about all kinds of medical issues. Now your child sits probably, receives the right kind of stretches, gets the equipment which gets both of you by, you get told how many calories your child should have and how to get this in the fastest way and more, but something seems to be missing. I observed the aftermath and what I saw is a child who is well cared-for and loved to pieces, but does not know how to have an active part in his life; how to have fun. The parents can see that, but do not know how to help their kid to be active, to be interested in things, how to strengthen his self-esteem so he’s more willing to try, to maintain attention in a toy for while, to share emotions, to interact to have fun; to play. All those areas are usually not covered by other professionals or brought in connection with the physical disability. And that’s where Conductive Upbringing comes in:

Today the same child was taken to the local computer store to check out if the Ipad might help to play and eventually learn to communicate. After an initial blink of interest, the child turned passive as soon as he was asked to take part in touching it. Looking at the situation the child did receive the right kind of physical help, the set-up enabled him to reach, there was even a spark of interest, but nothing more. It is important to know that the same behavior was observed when the child was asked to play a game. The child chose the game, was excited to play it, but as soon as the child had it, he would refuse total interest and cooperation.

The Ipad is still a great idea to eventually buy and play with, but right now that seems to be a step to far. The child is motivated to play, so now he needs to learn how to actively take part in a game. The game had to be simple and the child needed to be set up for success, in order to encourage the will to try as well as strengthen his self-esteem and motivation. So the child was set up with a ball and stacked up tins (the tins would create an immediate effect) that he was supposed to push over. It was explained to the child what to do and after he had some interest, he was left one his own (this was necessary to avoid someone else helping him and taking the success away from the child). It took the child an hour with encouraging shouts from far away. Remarkably, the child showed excitement for a long time, as the child would hysterically laugh every time the shouts of encouragement reached him. About an hour later a crash was heard and the parents ran to the child to share his success and award him with attention and cuddles. Needless to say the next round was much faster and the child showed a great deal pf perseverance to get that done. I think it was a great lesson learned by the child and parents and now leaves room for more things to do and work on.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

You've got post!

Here is the new logo. I am a little bit biased - but I really love it!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Business ABC

Yesterday I had a very interesting meeting with an accountant. She taught me how to record my expenses and intake. She totally made sense and I felt I learned a lot. And now I know its all not as complicated as I thought it would be. Great.

Further, I started to get my liability insurance set up. Nowadays, you can and should not do business without it. The thought of being sued one day is mortifying. And I cross my fingers it will never happen. However, in CE is there is sometimes a calculated risk you have to take in order to let learning and spontaneity take place. This is what sometimes makes all the difference and sets us apart from other professionals. Safety of the client is always the priority but sometimes you just have to let go. What I want to teach is that living life is about taking risks and not let anxiety hold you back from living. It is important to teach awareness of safety and when its okay to take risks as well as having a backup plan just in case it does not work out.

Setting up this business, I also have a back-up plan in case things go belly-up. But with a bit of luck and help from my friends I might not need it.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Sister, sister – the international connection!!

I always have been proud of my big sister but now I’m just awfully glad I have her. She has always been the creative/arty person in the family and just finished her degree in creative editing, so she knows how to put designs on paper and then on the computer. And luckily for me she volunteered her skills to help me out to create a business logo and design my business paper head as well as business cards. (The results are soon to come!) Plus she is doing it all from Germany via email and hopefully soon via Skype.

Coincidentally, most comments and well wishes also have been international by the usual suspects. I am thankful for those and of course for the few local ones. I know it is in the early days but it is interesting to see how big geographically and how small density wise the Conductive Education family is. But I guess it shows me that I have to now start focusing more on local networking. First thing on my list is the BC Cerebral Palsy Associations’ annual meeting. I guess those business cards will come in handy…

Thursday, September 9, 2010



Hmmm how did I (a German conductor trained in the UK) get here starting my own CE business in British Columbia? I am not quite sure but I think it had something to do with me not wanting to leave Canada, the pure beauty of the landscape in BC and of course some great parents out here wanting to make CE part of their lives.

I am Anne, mostly known in the English-speaking world as Anna (Aenna). I am professionally in the conductive education business for around 7 years (if you include the three years of training at NICE). Personally, I came into touch with CE 14 years ago through my younger brother who has Cerebral Palsy. Since the first time I stepped my foot into his CE classroom - at that time - in Budapest, I was fascinated with it. I have observed for so many years what a difference CE can make and feel lucky to be part of it. I have met so many great people along the way who have helped to keep this passion alive if not making it strengthening it.

This blog is intended to document my journey setting up an independent Conductive Education business as well as my experiences gained being a conductor.


Despite my great contacts out here in BC I have little illusion that this will be a slow process and has to be started small in order to build up something solid, something good. Therefore, I will start with individual session mainly in the clients’ home to bring it to the place where it should be happening. Primarily guiding how to implement a conductive upbringing at home.
The initial consultation will be free of charge in order to access if CE is appropriate and useful for the child or adult with a Movement Disorder and their family. With increasing client base, it is aimed to establish conductive groups that will suit the current demand while making sense for each individual’s growth.

That’s the plan and I will keep you posted on how this goes!