Monday, April 28, 2008

World -wide conductive community?

Weird. We've got our conductor here now, for a 15-week interim session. She's working part-time (3 days a week) until July 5, when the full-time summer session kicks into high gear. IN the interest of keeping our budget above water, the conductor has booted off on a 3 week camping trip in Central America. (I want her job!!) Even with her absence, we have had more continuous conductive ed than ever because it was a week straight and she's been here every week since; at least part time. People are making connections, doors are beginning to open up, and goals are coming into a clearer focus and progress is beginning. It's great, but at the same time, one must admit that for the most part doors are closed; financially and chronologically.
Most parents who I know, who want this for their kids are squeezing it in edgewise. Simultaneously, they are squeezing the dollars for it somehow out of their budgets. I am feeling the squeeze too, as an unpaid volunteer director. I want to build a program, but I don't know how. I want to raise funds for it, but I'm no expert at that either and I don't have all the connections or know how around it. How can I connect with the world-wide conductive community?

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Travelling with family

As those in the know know, having a child with a motor-disorder launches one into a new universe with a one-way non-refundable ticket. At least one gets to travel with family. The odd part is that the child tends to be the tour guide, showing the ostensible adult a great number of awesome and vast expanses that are virtually unknown to the publishers of life's little tour guide. We're off the map.
Being off the map means what? Well, for starters it means everyone else's map isn't really of much help. One has to make his own map, and the best point of reference for making this map is the child in one's lap; who, for all technical definitions, is often described as not knowing where he is or where he is going. Just let me say, this is a lie.
The child, (even the "non-verbal" type, especially the non-verbal type) knows where he is and where he wants to go. Figuring out where that is can be a challenge; a monstrous one. My whole point of raving here in this blog is to say over and over that the only thing that has gotten me started in earnest into the this territory called "My Sonland" is conductive education. Without the confidence and support of the conductors, I would have never begun to ask my boy to do so many things we now take for granted. Getting him out of the wheelchair and onto his feet? A notion all the traditional therapists never suggested. Stretching his legs properly? Nope. Asking him to use his hands? They still don't. What's happened is that my son's life at my house is completely different from his life in the hands of others.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Hand over Hand?

I often have parents tell me that I'm doing a good job; and to hear that from parents of kids with CP is the highest compliment I could imagine. The thing that really baffles me though, is to see how so much work, to bring one conductor here for a while, produces next to nothing in the way of curious professionals. It's like the school system and all the therapists have eaten our kids alive and we can't have them back until the children are eighteen.
I am not excited, to say the least about waiting to see what horrible things happen to my son's joints, muscles, and motivation as all these professionals vampire their wages off him and write little reports. I think it was said best by a parent I know, who recently told me: "My son's SEA has very nice handwriting. She sends me a lot of her artwork." I too have a lot of "schoolwork" my son "did" that I keep in a large box in his closet. I just can't bring myself to put "his" work on the wall, or the fridge, or anywhere. It just doesn't look like his work. I guess they call it "hand over hand." That's how Canadian teaching assistants and therapists name the practice of making my son write what they want him to put on the paper. I think they should call it "hand over mouth."
I also suppose I shouldn't take it to the system so hard, but this is my blog; I have to say it somewhere. Seven years ago, I tried to give a videotape to my son's teachers. It showed him sitting at a table, holding onto a bar with no assistance, no belts, no buckles; for half an hour. The tape ran out of space before Blue (yes, his name is Blue) stopped holding; and that's accounting for him letting go with one hand a couple times and coming back to grip it again.
I might as well have eaten that videotape. That would have made more sense to them. My no-longer -repeated requests to the teachers about this odd, holding-on phenomenon that my son purportedly did once upon a time have ceased. I have learned my place, and it seems to be nowhere.

Inside looking out. . .

Here we are, out on the great wet coast of Western Canada, where every child with CP has 5 therapists who visit him/her at school; and remarkably a whole lot of nothing changes. My son represents money to the school system, he is work, jobs. Sadly, the only learning that stuck for both him and I was in the conductive classroom I was able to set up at my work; because my employer is a non-profit agency with the insight and flexibility to allow a desperate father to try something "new."
My son is still in his school, inside looking out at the conductor on his off times, and in my home when we can.
Due to the support of my workplace, I have had the fortunate accident happen that a conductor called me from Seattle, of all places, and we worked out a contract for her to come here until mid-August. Now, as much as I'm happy to have her here, the money has to be found to bring her back some more. British Columbia is a sad story when it comes to conductive education; though I could tell a number of awesome tales about individual families and what they've seen happen after just an insultingly small amount of conductive education. To be honest, I also have to admit that there have been a lot of families who tried it and haven't come back since; but there is no blame to be laid for this. We all have our kids to raise, and our particular circumstances within which to do it.
As for me, if 1 child is happier, and more involved, more engaged, more functioning; it's worth it.