Sunday, 27 July 2008

Bon Voyage!

"On the road again " by Susie Mallett 2002 (inspired by Jack and Diane by John Cougar Mellencamp)

Yesterday evening I went to drink a glass of wine with friends and family of a very special lady, to cheer her on her way to Iceland to study for her doctorate in Disability Studies.

This young lady has been my client for a long time, since she was 16 years old when she sought out Conductive Education on the advice of one of her doctors, a manual therapist, after having had a hip operation.

We had very specific aims as my client wanted to be fit enough to attend school in Canada for the year before her A-level courses started, and we had just 18 months to achieve our goals.

We managed to get both of us to Canada in the end, I to work and my client to school, but it was a bit of a struggle. We didn’t struggle with the physical or the cognitive or the psychological aspects, although we had to work hard at them, but we struggled with the practicalities. We couldn’t find one of the special companies that organises these study trips willing to take on a disabled student. We resorted to seeking help in the Internet, more specifically the site which used to be the Conductive Education's Discussion Forum, and after a few months a parent with two disabled children came to our rescue, he helped organise a school and provided a home. My client was off, on the first of many long and interesting journeys.

After a very successful year both at school and in her quest for independence she returned to Germany to complete her A-levels at gymnasium, which she got through with flying colours. I had the privilege of walking the long catwalk with her as she walked up to receive her certificates. I am not sure whether she needed my hand to give her physical or moral support. Whichever it was it didn’t matter I was very happy for her as we walked together and very happy to be stepping beside her.

We have been walking together on and off ever since, not only physically, although we do try to get a CE session in now and then when her travelling and studies allow. Our relationship changes as she gets older, sometimes I am the conductor, sometimes we are godmother and godchild, sometimes just good mates. We are also painting partners, we had an exhibition together several years ago and we are always talking about the next!

After completing her schooling, this amazing young lady studied Nordic Languages and Culture at university, receiving her bachelors and masters degrees in record-breaking time.
She is only 26 and has achieved more in this short time than most people could dream of achieving ina whole lifetime.

As a teenager she had to fight a bit more than others did in order to succeed. Her mother set a good example by fighting to keep her in continuous mainstream education. and she continued attending her high school even during the time when she needed to use a wheelchair after the hip operation.

She goes from strength to strength, she has travelled all over with her studies and has friends in many parts of the world. My client is an example to us all and I take my hat off to her and wish her well. I know even if we do not meet often in the following years we will continue to talk to each other about everything under the sun, from her aches and pains, to planning more exhibitions, to planning Conductive Education sessions in Iceland and discussing the value of running Conductive Education programmes for children and adults with autism and cerebral palsy.
This is one if our favourite subjects at the moment as my client currently undergoes counselling for mild autistic traits and through that, she tells me, she found the courage to meet the love of her life.

We always have many plans, I just hope I can keep up with this jet-setting young lady. I wish her a wonderful start to her independent life.

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