Wednesday, 13 July 2016

A happy weekend in Norfolk!

I had a nice chat with my sister on Sunday. Earlier in the day she had sent me some lovely photographs of the work in action in her garden.

Her husband had been searching the Net to discover the swing to beat all swings, one suitable, as he said, for the whole family. I think he meant for the grandchildren, and perhaps the two of them as well, I do not really think for a moment that he thought our Dad, who is coming up for his 90th birthday, would be game for a swing.

But, it was our Dad who had a go before the children even got a look in – 

here he is as seen from the kitchen window with a lovely grin on his face.

Dad took himself out to the garden while my sister made a cup of tea. She looked out of the window and there he was comfortably swinging away. He made it onto the swing all alone but needed a helping hand to get out.

The swing was found on a website for garden toys for children and adults with special needs. It is also just perfect for growing grandchildren and for their aging grandparents. I hope that Graunties will be allowed to take a turn too.

My sister is really good at feeding me information that she knows I will be excited about. It is not only the possibilities available when purchasing swings  that I get to hear about, she also gave me information about Sunday’s tennis at Wimbledon. Information that I had not read online where I was following Andy Murray’s progress in the men's singles final.

Prior to Andy Murray’s match the wheelchair men’s doubles final had been played on centre court and one of the winners is from Norfolk –

So there were more smiling faces in Norfolk on Sunday afternoon, not only in my sister’s garden. I expect Alfie Hewett’s family were just as joyous on seeing his success as we were sharing Dad’s smile while on the new swing.

Thanks to Sis for sharing snippets with me and bringing a smile to Dad’s face after a difficult week.


Sunday, 1 May 2016

Music and learning

Music may help!

It is with thanks to the author of Deans Stroke Musings, a blog that I read with enthusiasm every morning (or every night if I am up too late), that I am motivated this morning to write on my own blog again after such a long break.

I am sure that I am not the only conductor who, on reading this headingMusic May Help Babies Learn Better’, will react as I did and say to yourself – ‘I believe knew that already’.

Dean also commented in this posting – ‘And just when is your doctor going to learn that music helps stroke recovery?’

Having read that sentence I immediately knew that I have to refer to this posting on my blog and also try to trace where I have written about learning speech through singing in my own work to put it as a reference here. I have written about my stroke clients singing on several occasions, in speech programmes, at summer fetes and during walking programmes keeping a tempo walking to music or listening to one’s own singing voice.

The report that dean refers to from NBC News can be read here with a video to watch from the Institute of Learning and Brain Sciences, that carried out the study –

Below is a quote from the above report –

"Schools across our nation are decreasing music experiences for our children, saying they are too expensive," she said. "Music experience has the potential to boost broader cognitive skills that enhance children's abilities to detect, expect and react quickly to patterns in the world, which is highly relevant in today's complex world."

I was considering recently the role of music in my own life. I realised that apart from singing in various conductive groups including stroke groupsI hear very little music these days and I had already decided to remedy this before I read today’s posting.

I attend with joy the conductive music group that I organise with a young musician. I learn a tremendous amount while playing rhythms and keeping tempo on a bongo or other instrument. It is becoming easy to lead half the group while singing rounds, but it is still hard work, needing lots of concentration.

I will be on the look-out in the next few weeks for a few concerts to attend during the summer months so I can fill my life with a bit more music. Unfortunately I cannot be in Norwich in June when my sister will be lucky enough to see and hear Rod Stewart! Maybe I will also invest in a small music system for my flat, it is time after living here for several years to listen to my collection of CDs again.

It says in NBC news report quoted in Dean’s posting that music experience in schools is decreasing. I think this is possibly true for many countries in the world so I realise once again how important it is for us all to use any influence we might have to increase the amount of music that is available for the children and adults who we work with. Next year our conductive music group will be incorporated into our city’s evening class programme for people with and without disabilities. We hope to reach a wider clientele.


Deans Stroke Musings

My blog –

I found a quite a few when I searched my blog here is a small sample –


Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Cycling for people who need adapted bikes

That's me in my lovely new cycling jacket in the gorgeous autumn sunshine

I was recently talking to parents of a now adult child discussing means of enjoying cycling together as a family instead of always walking or jogging alongside their daughter’s very large, adapted three-wheeler bike. 

Here are some of things that I have since discovered

This was my first, and perhaps best, find –

It is such a simple and practical idea. No extra bicycle is needed, although I think this kit comes with the bike. Unfortunately it is only available in Spain.

Here is another version –

That second one is not quite as versatile as the first but still a nice tandem bike.

Here is something completely different for people who need just a little bit of help to keep on the right track –

and something else for groups who wish to keep close together –

There is a lot more available for little people and bigger people –

And if I had any grandchildren this is the one I would buy –

Happy cycling!

Monday, 5 October 2015

Life is a conductive spiral

Learning to do some of the nice things in life


On the way home from work in September

As we see from the skies this last week, autumn has arrived and that means that school is back in action. A few weeks have passed by and we are now being asked to give advice in the old schools and get to know teachers and assistants in the new.

Working as closely as we do with schools and our children’s classroom assistants has so many advantages. Whether we get a text message to say that there has been a problem in the playground – ‘Please discuss it this afternoon!’; a note to say that the day was great, top marks achieved in mathematics; impromptu meetings with assistant, parents and conductors, we in the conductive group for school children welcome it all. We plan our afternoon sessions around the children’s needs so we very much depend on this information coming in regularly.

Recently we were able to discuss with the parents of one child the possibility of moving her domestic science lessons from afternoon school to the conductive afternoon group, the school assistant liaising with the school. The school agree that we have better facilities and equipment to suit the child and a most important a qualified chef in our midst.

As the children get older school days get longer and therefore we need to find new solutions and this was such a case.

Domestic science in the group will benefit us all. Cooking and baking will take a turn in a different direction for all the children, as we saw when as we all helped the school girl in question make cheese scones for her school picnic. We learnt about raising agents, how yeast likes to be warm and cosy for a while before it gets really hot in the oven and stops working. This was easy for the children to imagine after the heat of the past summer when they didn’t feel much like working either.

When a child has extreme over movements, or when a child has little strength in their fingers, or when Mum doesn’t like cooking very much, or the kitchen is too small for a wheelchair to fit in, some children do not get the chance to help preparing family meals or bake something at home to take on a picnic. 

Baking for a school trip, cooking for friends, making cheese biscuits for Grandma and of course helping to clear up afterwards

Through liaising with schools, with parents and assistants we can provide, during the conductive sessions, the opportunities for children to learn how to do some of those nice things in life, like helping yeast feel cosy by wrapping its bowl up in a tea towel and putting it near the radiator or on top of the warming oven.

A successful first session making a yeast dough
Spontaneity, quick decisions, team work

Today I received a text from another school assistant and in seconds we had a meeting arranged for next week. I will be observing and co-assisting in lessons for the morning and this will be followed by a meeting that will include me, parents, class assistant and classroom assistant co-ordinator, and both class and head teachers.

It is time once again to plan for the future for a child with muscular dystrophy. Access to classrooms needs to be discussed, as does whether sport lessons are still possible and whether alternatives can be found. Differentiation of school work and time given for tests will also be on the agenda.

Before we visit schools we always wait until the term has been going for a few weeks giving the children time to settle down; time for them to get to know new teachers, new environments or new assistants and to get into their routine of school life. We hear about this school life from the children themselves in the afternoons so we can begin to get a feel of how the children are settling in before we go to observe for ourselves.

The waiting is over
The school visits have begun, and I for one really enjoy this work as I can see a conductive lifestyle really coming  to shape when so many of the people from a child’s life come together to plan the next steps in the spiral onwards and upwards.

Two twelve-year-olds enjoy a pre-baking warm-up, one is doing her pre-baking standing too! As in the baking many hands make light work its the same in the conductive grop, much can be achieved while preparing for and during one motivating activity.