I asked one of the youngsters to sort out the technical stuff for me, like switching on a television and finding the right channel, and we settled down to our fish dinner.
It is Friday.
I made it in time
The presenter said early on in the show that they would be discussing this that and the other, the "other" being a report about a “therapy for people who had problems with their muscles”. At this point I was less optimistic then I had been earlier.
At 13.20 a storm that seemed to be brewing up caused the television to show nothing but snow. We quickly fiddled with knobs but in the end had to move to another TV, in the hope that the report had not been shown in the minutes that we took to reorganise.
Another twenty minutes then came the cue
This is roughly what they said in the introduction -
People who have a spastische Lähmung (spastic disability) were often tied to a wheelchair but then a Hungarian doctor came along, Dr Petö, and they stood up and walked. A miracle was taking place.
Yes this is how the introduction went, well, something along these lines. You can check it out on the link below, unfortunately I still can’t get the sound to work so I can not translate word for word.
The insurance just won't pay
The film went on to show Mario Schumacher and his mother in their home. Mario was showing us how far he had learnt to walk and his mother was explaining how the Petö-Methode had helped them gain some independence in their lives.
The aim behind making this programme was to bring to national attention the problem that the health insurance companies do not pay the cost of Conductive Education.
This family has debts of thousands of euros, the price paid privately for Mario’s increased independence, because the health insurance companies refuse to pay for it, because it isn’t in their “Book of approved provision”.
These companies are still looking for the written proof that it works. They do not believe their eyes, or the words of the people who experience it personally. The word Studium appeared again, as is usual in such reports.
The health insurance company in question (DAK) did not want to talk about individual cases, which suggests that perhaps the Schumachers are not the only family putting on the pressure.
It was a surprise when I saw this family. I had actually known that this film was being made. I had been invited a few months ago to help with its production. The charity that I work with in Nürnberg had offered help too, by covering my costs, both travel and time, and by providing any information needed for the programme. I hadn't heard any more, though, until today.
The report moved from the Schumachers very briefly to Würzburg, with some shots of children “walking” in a kindergarten session, and Wolfgang with a very short spot.
On the whole it didn’t say an awful lot about the "miracle" Petö Methode, certainly not enough to cause damage. The film had been made primarily to bring into the spotlight the position of many families in Germany, highlighting their struggle with health insurance companies. The families want financial support to pay for the method the they choose for their children with cerebral palsy.
This could turn out to be a change for the better.
A change to a title that is far better than Konduktive Förderung, something that has been around since CE came to Germany.
Using this name could perhaps stop the immediate bundling of anything "conductive" into a specific drawer. The initial mention of the Petö-Methode would make no association to either education or health (though of course it would be best if pedagogy and upbringing were the words that we used here in Germany and that the whole thing was in the hands of the Education Department).
But for Frau Schumacher and the others who are fighting the health insurance companies for payment of Conductive Education perhaps the name Petö Methode might prove to be to their advantage.