Monday, 31 May 2010

More about wooden furniture!

By Susie Mallett, May 2010
Do Hungarian trainee conductors learn about or even get to visit the Dr Emmi Pikler Institute in Budapest?

I studied at the Petö Institute but have only learnt about Dr Pikler since I have been living in Germany. Her name is mentioned in the same breath as Maria Montessori, and only during the past month have I learnt about the Pikler Institute in Budapest.

Dr Pikler and her work have come to my awareness twice recently. Once because of a conversation about my adventure playground style sessions for the littlies after school and again because equipment used in Pikler Institute groups was featured in the local newspaper.

A few weeks ago I expressed my wish to have a room full of constructions where the children can get from A to B to C and then back again independently but with lots of thought needed on how to do it. A room that I could change every now and then, or where the children can help change the construction, but a place where I did not have to clear away the equipment each session. This conversation occurred at a time when I was aching all over from furniture moving!

My colleague wondered whether some Pikler furniture would be useful. She considered the possibility of trying to get sponsoring for some of this specialist climbing equipment.

I did not really know what it was so I looked it up on Google, and then the very next day there was the article in the local newspaper that was about a Kindergarten in the region being presented with the some of the said equipment.

Through googling I became more interested in finding out what the Pikler Institute was doing with the children other than give them furniture to climb over, than I was in acquiring even more wooden furniture for our groups. In my opinion it appears to be too flimsy for our purposes.

Dr Pikler, a paediatrician, was commissioned in 1946, by the City of Budapest, to organise a home for young orphaned children. A place where these children could live in a safe environment until other living arrangements could be found for them. Dr Pikler’s concepts included respecting the child as a person, an active individual given an environment in which to move freely and safely.

The International Pikler Institute offers aid to children, parents and caregivers. Through its training courses and outreach programmes it is dedicated to raising healthy, happy children in environments where the children are nurtured to become emotionally and socially mature individuals, able to adjust to the needs of others and the environment.

I come to the same conclusion here as I do with Petö wooden furniture. Wooden furniture was used because that is how it was made in 1946 in Budapest and elsewhere at that time. Wood was the material that was available, it was the cheapest possibility, and there was no money to be spent on designing. There were enough carpenters, even odd-job men, around who could build what was needed from wood that was readily available.

The equipment that Pikler, Petö and Co. were using had then and still has now, nothing what-so-ever to do with the actual work that is going on with the children. I still maintain that a conductive upbringing and from the little I know about it, probably also a Pikler upbringing, have nothing to do with the wooden furniture.

Has anyone out there visited the Pikler Institute, in Lóczy Ut., Budapest?

Please tell us all about it if you have.

Notes

Dr Emmi Pikler

http://www.basisgemeinde.de/menu1/index.html

http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pikler-Institut

http://www.basisgemeinde.de/images/pikler_ausbildung07_def.pdf

http://pikler.org/

http://pikler.org/AboutUs.html

Dr Emmi Pikler: Lasst mir Zeit; Pflaum-Verlag, München 1997

Thursday 09.30hr

Freedom Bridge, Budapest 2008 by Susie Mallett


Living life in our group

Just as we had planned two days before, the stroke group members were all there at 9.30 am ready to go at full steam ahead for one and a half hours. We were hoping to get through as much of our normal programme as we could in just half the time because today we had other plans.

During this shortened programme we had a really good laugh. The laughter was mainly due to the fact that although the clients were putting their all into it, I seemed to have left my head behind somewhere. I was getting in terrible mess with my German I was somehow in English mode this morning. To make matters, not worse, but even funnier, when I did concentrate really hard and rediscover my head enough so that the German language improved, my clients teased me by doing a completely different movement to the one intended.

They said they were just testing to see if I was awake. While I work I have eyes in the back of my head, I notice everything they do, but even when the observation is good I still manage to get my words mixed up sometimes and they know it.

So it was a really fun start to the day and so lovely to see how this youngish in age, stroke group can be so jovial and spontaneous, and can deviate from the programme while still retaining their concentration. That is a lot of progress for them.

They truly are a well established group, and although the newest member has been with us for only six months, the longest standing has been attending for ten years. The friendships between the members, the care and encouragement that they show to each other are always apparent during the sessions and today were even more so.

It was our last session for four weeks but this was not the only reason for the fun and comradeship. We had other reasons to celebrate! One of the members in the group had found his freedom and in doing so he had freed up the rest of his family members too. He had bought himself a car!

When we all first knew that this client was preparing to take all the tests necessary to drive again after a stroke we have jokingly talked about where he would take us for a trip in the new car. He had promised to take us to the local café and that is what he did today, in style. Once there he treated us all to coffee and cake!

Congratulations where indeed well deserved and not only had he the new car and his freedom, he had decided he was going to drive to France this summer with his wife. He would give her a well deserved break; she would not have to drive. His wife is a teacher and he talked to me today about how she has her life back again too. He described how that after several years of rushing home to drive him to all his appointments and in her school holidays also drive him the fifty miles to “Petö” twice weekly, she now felt like she had all the time in the world. She could attend after school meetings and prepare for lessons at school without thinking about rushing home. She could go to her yoga classes and visit a friend without having to leave early to collect her husband. Family life was near normal again.

Earlier I described the comradeship within the group while we are working on our programme. When we went out to the café, which by the way was our first ever social trip as a group, this changed to something completely different. I was no longer in charge, they still looked out for each other as they do in the group rooms, but now they also looked out for me. I was being treated in just the same way that they always treat each other. My role was now a different one. I was out in the café as a friend, no longer the group leader. It was a delight to see was how this group of stroke victims, three of them with aphasia, was able to adapt to this situation and spontaneously behave accordingly.

What is more they all became so incredibly independent. They were walking tall and overcoming all fears of talking, even talking confidently to strangers. They all ordered their own coffees and cakes with no stuttering and stammering. They confidently asked for assistance or accepted offered help to carry their tasty morsels to their chosen tables.

The group then began to converse with each other over coffee on a completely different level than in a quick break in our group sessions. They had time to have really long conversations, discuss holidays and families and to ask each other questions.

It was a pleasure to be part of this experience, not only be there observing but to be really truly part of it.

This was a highlight for me

I have been working with a stroke group in Nürnberg for a long time, almost ten years and I think I can say honestly say that this was the highlight. One of the group found his independence. As he put it “my car is my return to freedom”.

The rest of the group regained some freedom too through being taken in the new car to the café and through all that they experienced there. The group has also seen what it possible. Some are now motivated to follow suit driving, others to take on other challenges. Two young men are discussing a weekend trip together to Cologne, a first unaccompanied holiday since they became disabled.

And me?

I had the privilege of being part of these celebrations and the run up to them.

I hope it will not be the last new driving license in the group. I am absolutely certain it will not be the last trip out for coffee.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

There is Conductive Education in British Columbia

Full moon at Lake Balaton, August 2008

James Forliti is over the moon and he has changed the name of his blog too!

http://zsippzsupp.blogspot.com

Best wishes for the future developments of CE in BC!

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Things that I create when I could be writing!


N-gauge terraces with a giant milkman, 23rd May 2010

Still painting!

"Red flowers" by Susie Mallett, May 2010

Monday, 24 May 2010

Funny faces

Norwich Cathedral cloister, roof boss, 2004

Norwich cloister roof boss, 2004

Norwich cloister roof boss, 2004

Norwich cloister roof boss, 2004

Norwich cloister roof boss, 2004

Norwich cloister roof boss, 2004

Norwich cloister roof boss, 2004

Norwich cloister roof boss, 2004

Norwich cloister roof boss, 2004

Norwich cloister roof boss, 2004

Misericord, Norwich 2004

Misericord, Norwich 2004

Johannis, 2010

Johannis, 2010

Johannis, 2010
Johannis, 2010

Undergoing urgent repairs, 16th May 2010

Back in his rightful place among friends

My balcony, May 2010

I was going to write a conducting posting but as it is Bank Holiday weekend I decided it is more appropriate to write a bit about my life and not about work. It is all conductive anyway.


Green men in my life


I have been interested in green men for as long as I remember. As a child I discovered them in our cathedral in Norwich.


Norwich Cathedral is famous for its ceiling bosses, both in the main part of the building, in the nave and transepts, and also in the cloisters. As a very small child my favourite boss was the one depicting Noah and his Ark but as I grew older and visited the Cathedral with my school, I discovered that there are also the green men and these are still my favourite to this day.


Not only are there so many of them peering down from the ceiling bosses in the cloisters, some of them really scary, there is also the best green man that I have ever come across hidden under one of the misericords in the transept. Norwich is famous for these lovely oak seats too and, as well as a few surviving old ones, there is a series of new ones in the choir stalls, with carvings depicting modern life. There is one seat with a carving of the Norwich City Football team hidden beneath it, produced durinng one of the team's highlight seasons (one similar to this last one).


Whenever I take the route to the city that leads me through the cathedral close I take a detour into the cloisters to gaze at my favourite men.


The illusive Magyar zöld ferfi!


I have discovered green men all over the world. There are many in Germany. I just happened across some beautiful ones in Bamberg, and there are even a couple on the front of the Lorenz Kirche in Nürnberg. I have seen them in Paris too but funnily enough I do not remember ever having seen one in Hungary. Surely they must be there too.


As well as green men I also love the grotesque, and sometimes funny, gargoyles and water spiers that peer down from above on most churches. The best of these must be on Notre Dame in Paris ,although St Sebald’s church in Nürnberg comes a very close second.


However much I read on the subject of theorigins of green men, I am really none the wiser. They are there to be found all over the world. and nowadays not only in religious buildings.

As stated below, in the description of the Norwich Green Men, the image has remained popular for a long time.


“The abundance of versions of the Green Man in medieval buildings attests to the ongoing significance of natural imagery in the religious life of the period. The original meaning surrounding the Green Man, probably that of rebirth in springtime, has been lost across the centuries but the image has remained popular.”


The imagine of the green man is so popular that sometimes you can not turn round without finding one, as was the case today.


Holiday weekend, and so very quiet out on the streets of Johannis and, as an added bonus, the sun shining down on us at long last after weeks of cold, damp drizzle. So cold that I abandoned my bike again for a few days.


Today I decided to enjoy the warmth of the sun by talking a walk through some neighbouring streets that I have never walked in before. I have cycled in most of them but on a bike I tend to have my head down on the look out for pot holes and tram lines rather than lifting my head to peruse the interesting nineteenth century architecture towering four or even five storeys above me.


I discovered during my walk today four green men. I expect that there are even more hidden away in private courtyards or as yet unnoticed by me high up on facades in narrow streets.


Not only did I find four green men in Johannis, I also discovered a Turkish and an Indian restaurant, a second, second-hand shop, a doll-making workshop, the restored ruins of a 1534 church, a strange oldie-worldly bakery and café, like something out of a Dickens novel, a lingerie shop, and a Greek restaurant advertising continuous World Cup coverage. So I know where to go when England reach the finals!


Back to the green men


I do not only look at and photograph these green men and other weird gargoyle faces, I also make them and paint them when given the chance.


The flat that I lived in for the first ten years in Nürnberg is adorned with one of my glazed terracotta figures. It encloses the microphone and speaker, at the front door. I have often wondered what it must be like when a face, similar to the red and green one in the pictures above, greets visitors as they ring the door bell .


The one in the photograph above was a reject, coming out of the glaze firing having lost a layer of clay from the back. Another reject is on the wall beside the back door at my Dad’s house. Mine eventually ran out of luck with the weather this winter when water froze in the cracks and he lost his ears. With a botch job with the glue that I went into town to buy two weeks ago, he is back in one piece and taking his place again on the balcony between the other creations.


Notes


Green men -

http://www.sedayne.co.uk/greenman.pdf


Green men bosses in Norwich -

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IKDKbtYeVBM


Bosses -

http://www.cathedral.org.uk/historyheritage/architecture-bosses.aspx


Misericords -

Friday, 21 May 2010

Rehabilitation

by Susie Mallett March 2010


There are lots of different opinions


Most of my clients at some time or other go for several weeks at a time for rehabilitation at a clinic that specialises in the illness or symptoms that they have.


This is how the German health system works. There are clinics all over the country specialising in different treatments and cures for ailments. The individual health insurance companies favour certain clinics over others, even own some of them, and give their clients choices of two or three when their application for such a service is accepted.


There are also clinic where patients go for convalescence after a stay in hospital. This is prescribed by the patient’s doctor and is automatically paid for by the same health insurance companies.


Dr András Petö was the medical director in such clinics during the years that he lived in Austria. This was before he began his work in Budapest. His book Unfug der Krankheit: Triumph der Heilkunst, written under the pseudonym of Dr. Barnklau, is full of examples of the treatments that one can still find in such places. The Kneipp and Schüßler cures for example.


Back to nowadays


Children go for such a Kür with their parents, sometimes the mother or father gets treatment or therapy too, sometimes not, depending on the personal health insurance and the clinic, and the GP who is recommending it all. Mother-and-child cures, as they are called, are no longer so readily available as they were fifteen years ago when I first came to Germany. Mothers could go once a year with their disabled or not-disabled children to experience massage, psychotherapies and physical therapies of all kinds. Often this all takes place beside the sea.


The clinic is chosen by the health insurance company and they are often a long way from home. How often one is allowed to go on such a Kür depends entirely on what the insurance company is prepared to pay for and what the illness is. Sometimes people can receive this treatment annually sometimes once every two or three years. Sometimes not at all. Carers are also offered these cures by some health insurers.


Not all of my clients take up this offer of being an in-patient for a month or more. That is a month away from home in which they could receive different treatments, try out new drugs or diets and experience knew activities such as qi-gong or self hypnosis/meditation, that are both popular at the moment. They could also take the opportunity to swim daily, have massages, speech therapy, physiotherapy, take part in Nordic walking, listen to lectures, and much more.


The different client groups that I have return from such a stay at a clinic with very differing stories to tell of their experiences. I have noticed that their opinions about the quality and benefit of these stays is very much influenced by their family status and the disability that they have.


The majority of my MS clients are single. Some were married and have families but are now separated and living alone. Others are single, never having been married. Some, having discovered they had MS in their twenties or thirties, then found that socialising, meeting prospective partners, even just making new friends became very difficult. Often they have become very isolated from the social environment that they knew before. Most of these clients like go to a rehabilitation clinic once every twelve months and they usually opt for the two-week extension that they are often offered. These clients enjoy the break from looking after themselves, from cooking and organising their households, as well as the daily physiotherapy, massages and social events that they are offered. Most of them attend specialist MS clinics where they will be informed about all the latest research and different drugs and treatments being given to patients with MS. Many arrange to go each year at the same time, so they can meet up with old acquaintances.


Nearly all of my MS clients return home from their rehabilitation satisfied with what they experienced. This is also true of the clients with cerebral palsy, both the adults and the children who attend with parents. It is however not always the case with my stroke clients.


Most of these stroke clients have families and, although they realise that when they are in a rehabilitation this also gives the rest of a family a break from being carers, they are not always satisfied with what they receive there.


One of my group returned last weekend from five weeks away from his family. Although he admits that in some areas of his life he has made good progress during this time he was very pleased to get home and back to his old routine of conductive education, physiotherapy, speech therapy and living with his wife and two teenage boys.


On the one hand he realises how important this break was for his wife and his sons, who have all cared for him for over a year now since the stroke. On the other hand he know that he is fit enough to have been more active and wishes he had been offered more hours of treatment. He feels that he could have improved his abilities much more given the encouragement and the opportunity. He indicated to us that the amount of therapy and activities that he was offered on this cure was no more than he got directly after his stroke when he was still ill. He is so much fitter now and would have been able to take part in more than the two activities each day that were available to him.


When he is at home he has his family to practise his speech with but when he is in rehabilitation after his activities are over for the day, apart from meal times he felt he had no one to practise his communication skills with. He still cannot speak at all spontaneously which makes it difficult in a clinic that is full of stroke and aphasic patients, to strike up any conversations and develop friendships.


Another client was an in-patient in the clinic where she was given botulin treatment in her right arm. The clinic would not give her the treatment unless she stayed there for three weeks. The only therapy that she received each day was an hour of physiotherapy each morning. For the rest of the day she was left to her own devices, which was mostly reading as she was unable to go far on her own. Her husband worked full-time several miles away, so he was unable to visit her, except for at the weekends.


This client argues that she could have had an hour of physiotherapy each day at home for three weeks and had the practice of using her arm by doing all that needed to be done in her household instead of staying at the hospital, where she was lonely and quite unhappy with her lot. She said that the money spend on the in-patient treatment would have been enough for her conductive education sessions for the whole year!


I think that in this case it the deciding point was the huge difference in the costs that are all paid for by the health insurance companies. The clinic will only do some treatments to in-patients because they get paid so much more.


Both of these examples are instances where stroke client did not feel ill or in need of a break from their daily lives. Both were recovering their fitness and wishing, indeed expecting, to be motivated to do more to develop their motor skills and independence and in one case his speech. They really felt like their time had been wasted and that they would have been better off had they been offered more intensive, daily treatment at home. One lady always says that she would rather that the health insurance company paid for a block of conductive education for her than pay for in-patient rehabilitation again. But it will be an uphill battle to persuade it to do this.


There was a clinic during the 1990s, not too far from Nürnberg, that had conductive education as part of its provision for disabled children. I worked there on one occasion as did many of my colleges working in Bavaria. This clinic has unfortunately been closed for several years, the whole clinic not only the conductive part of it. In its time it was one of very few places where parents could receive daily sessions of conductive education for several weeks a year, all paid for by their health insurance company, including the accommodation. These were among the families who were happy with the rehabilitation cure that they were offered.


Notes


Read a little bit about Kneipp and Schüßler and you could get an idea about some of the content of Dr András Petö’s book - Bärnklau, K. O. (1965) Unfug der Krankheit: Triumph der Heilkunst, Hanau/Main, Verlag Karl Schuster


Kneipp, “Through its holistic therapy concept, the classical Kneipp treatment brings about harmony between body and soul. This comes about naturally thanks to the curative powers of water and plants, through individual exercise therapy, through a balanced diet and orderliness in one's rhythm of life.” -


Schüßler, "Schuessler came to the conclusion that missing inorganic mineral salts will cause disruption to the living processes and therefore create illnesses" -

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

"If you could see me now"

If my friends could see me now!


Sweet Charity Hope Valentine


On Saturday I did a lovely bits-in-between activity-for-conductors. I went to town, bought last minute tickets for myself and a friend, who I have not seen for months, for the matinee performance at the opera house.


We watched and listened to, and absorbed with all our senses a wonderful performance of Sweet Charity, the musical. The choreography and the scenery were great, how the floor reflected the reds and blacks of the set and the costumes was something like in the magic mirrors at the fairground , and the glittery lights were dazzling. The music and the voices where the icing on the cake.


I sang along inside my head throughout the show. I knew all the words to many of the songs, which were all sung in English while the dialogue was in German. This is the way I like it, it seems right this way.


My mate asked me after the interval if I read the German translation of the songs. In the Opera House this is always projected just above the curtain, whether the language being sung is English, Italian, French, or some other foreign tongue. She had caught me in the corner of her eye taking a peep. Yes, I do read the words but not all the time. Now and then I look as it is a good way to learn how to translate and of discovering new and unusual words. I really enjoyed the feeling though of knowing most of the songs in English.


But how has this come about?


The musical was written in 1966 so in a round-about way that is the reason why I came to learn the songs. This was a few years before we moved house, when our gramophone still stood in the living-room , it was not till later that a television took its place. The gramophone stood beside the tape-to-tape recorder, this I believe was quite an unusual thing to have in those days, and both were used regularly.


To my delight I was treated very often to a sing-a-long by my parents. I suppose it could be said that they invented a form of karaoke! They had lots of records of musicals, Salad Days, Gigi, the King and I and, I presume, Sweet Charity.


My parents would sing-along and at the same time record themselves on the tape. My sister and I had so much fun playing it all back with the dog sometimes making himself heard in the background.


We could have danced all night


I have often been surprised as an adult when I have been able to sing along to old songs from beginning to end, just as my parents once did. I had not been aware that I had memorised the songs.When I was eight-years old all I had done was sit quietly in a corner listening. Sometimes I secretly snuggled up on the bottom step of the stairs, with my teddy under my arm, my ear to the door,dreaming of dancing in floaty dresses, when really I should have been in bed!


So not only did I have a lovely afternoon at the Opera House, spend an equally lovely two hours with my friend in a café afterwards, I have also got a head full of lovely memories. Memories of my parents, our lovely gramophone (still at Dad’s house), and of music ringing through our house. We moved a few years later. The gramophone was no longer handy beside the dining table and a television arrived too. Sadly the singing got relegated to high days and holidays, unless of course something they both knew came on the radio or television then there was no stopping them. And on Saturday there was no stopping me, although I made sure no one could hear me.


Notes


Sweet Charity -


Monday, 17 May 2010

Anger


"Clowning around", by KK, 2010

Last week a client made some lovely communication cards in our art session. I wrote about them in a posting and mentioned that we must laminate the cards to make them last longer. What I had actually written in my notebook was:

“We must take the trouble and expense to laminate them, to make them look special so they are enjoyed and get used a lot and, just as important, to make them anger-proof. Because anger there sometimes is”.

There is actually often anger not only with this client but with others too. I am sure that we have all had to deal with it at sometime in our work as a conductor, whatever hat we are wearing at the time.


Because the card-making client comes to art therapy sessions alone it is a different anger to the anger that can be apparent in group work. The anger and the way of dealing with it are different. Very often it is more difficult to work through the anger and to talk about it, or not talk to about it (what ever is necessary at the time), when an individual is alone with a conductor than it would be in a group influenced environment.


Anger and the group


I think when clients work in a group, whatever their abilities, their disabilities, their personalities and level at practising social skills, anger is experienced differently and dealt with differently. The other group members have an immense influence, often more than a conductor can have. In individual sessions this influence of the other group members is missing, then the anger is often directed at the conductor even when it stems from home or elsewhere. When a client walks through the door and is greeted by a group of friendly Hellos, offers of toys to play with, a strong hand-shake or a cup of tea a bad mood can disappear instantly.


A group can radiate its motivating influence in all situations, both over positive and negative behaviours. Encouraging or discouraging without really making judgements, just indicating gently, or in some cases (especially in the stroke group where subtleties have yet to be re-learnt) less gently, what kind of behaviour is expected from their colleagues in the group.


Often if the anger does not disappear at the door then the group sets to work on it. In a group anger can disappear the moment that the angry person meets a favourite friend, or it can be subdued by an observant group member who takes the person by the hand and makes interesting, enquiring and caring conversation until the situation brightens and the anger is dispersed. This works just the same with children as with adults, taking a friend by the hand, sharing a toy or a drink and a piece of fruit. Sharing news, discussing a topical news story, describing a holiday or telling a joke, they all work wonders especially, when the group-members take the lead. This of course is all watched over by the conductors who are always there ready to step in, but in my experience this is rarely necessary, only perhaps as encouragement to the others.

Individual anger

A conductor plays a different role to the other group members when dealing with anger and it is always preferable for the group as a whole to deal with it and to avoid one-to-one confrontations. It is a completely different situation again when working alone with an angry client, especially if the anger is directed at the conductor or used as a way of testing out the lie of the land.


In the individual sessions with my card-making client anger can raise its head in many ways as it can in many of the art therapy and conductive sessions that I have taken part in.


I am not talking about violent anger here, but of an anger that could influence the well-being of us both and influence very much the pleasure that we both get from the session. It could also influence my clients’ willingness to return for future sessions.


Sometimes it can be there at the beginning, underlying the otherwise friendly and pleased-to-be-with-Susie mood. This usually indicates that something has happened earlier in the day or even yesterday that is still being churned over and thought about. This has nothing to do with me personally and will usually remain that way, although I will need to deal with it on and off during the course of the two or three hour session. Something can always happen to change the peaceful atmosphere. Perhaps the anger raises its head a bit higher if my client gets tired or hears the children outside, if the phone rings or if a colleague comes in to use the office. On other days these things do not make him raise an eyebrow, days when nothing untoward has happened during the earlier part of the day to cause an upset.


When I know, or can ask, or can guess the cause of the anger or the cause of its raising its head I can restore the balance quite quickly. I have to be quick on my toes to prevent a bigger outburst. When we know each other well enough a reminder of how to behave in our rooms and with me will quickly restore the working atmosphere.

If I do not know the cause I have to have my wits about me and use all the things that we have accumulated to calm our souls and the atmosphere.


What is on offer?

There is a hot drink, or a cold drink, a snack to eat, a lie-down or a walk around. Music can be played on a CD-player or on instruments, or both. We can change our activities: we can paint, or stick or create something out of natural things, whatever the situation calls for. We always, however, stick to our long-term aim of working on an activity or a project until it is finished, although we could have two projects on the go at once just so we can vary the activity if and when it is necessary.

In one particular session one of my colleagues always comes in to say Hello, the others come in too occasionally. I have encouraged this because of the situation in the lay-out of our rooms. Sometimes they must come in to use the office while I am working. If they do this, then I have asked them always to introduce themselves and show some interest in what we are doing. This makes the disturbance positive and not a potential bringer of anger and disruption. It works well this way and the one colleague who always comes in to say Hello, regardless of whether she has to come through the room or not, is especially welcome. My clients really like her. She is such good fun that all my groups love it when she comes to “disturb” us, tease them and hear any news that they have to tell her. Any anger or bad feeling always flies out of the window and is forgotten about after a few jokes with her.


An eruption


I encourage these visits, so that they become positive interactive times and not irritable disturbances and time taken away from there attention from me. This week something happened that was different, the visit caused an anger to erupt that although I had been aware of it since my client arrived, it was simmering gently, I had not expected to see it so vividly during our time together. I had had no idea what it was about and, although I had not ignored it, I had not dwelt on it and had provided distractions and interesting projects, and we carried on working.


It is in such situations that one really does have to think on one’s feet. When a client is unable or unwilling to say what is wrong sometimes I can guess quite accurately. This I was fortunate to do, this time. My client was resting, listening to gentle relaxing music when my colleague entered so I put my finger to my lips indicating that we should not speak,. That, I believe, but cannot be sure, was the mistake. My client thought that the door’s opening indicated the arrival of the person who collects him, even though we are so far advanced that he is not collected at the door anymore. He goes out on his own.

I was able to bring calm back to the situation, just by encouraging my colleague to speak and ask questions and be interested. It worked but it may not have done. Sometimes two or three different ways need to be tried. Even in a group the first path sought does not always work. Patience and lots of ideas are needed.

My colleague asked me later if I ever have Angst in these situations. I reflected on other situations when not only anger was expressed verbally but also aggressive behaviour. These were potentially dangerous situations.


Fears


But do I have Angst at such times?


What should I answer? Both Yes and No? No at the time, but Yes afterwards? I am not sure.


I really can truthfully say that am not sure. There is no time in the given moment to consider whether one is afraid or not, and afterwards, if there is Angst, then it is a different kind of fear that one has. A fear of what could have been and not of what really was.

In the actual situation it is not an important question. The questions are always: “How am I going to bring this situation back to a calm and peaceful one again?”. “What action is needed right now?" Whether alone with an individual or within a group, with children or with adults there is no time and no reason to think about my own fears, the other people present will have enough of them themselves. Remaining calm, and making spontaneous decisions that (nearly always) work, remove any thoughts of fear and with the situation resolved we try to carry on, making time when it is needed later to talk calmly about the situation.


Dealing with it


The most important thing for me especially when working with children, is not to let a child’s anger become contagious. The other children must not “catch” it and neither must the conductors. It could be easy to become angry with a child who is angry, other children in the group really dislike having their play disrupted by angry children but they dislike it even more if the angry child influences the playfulness of the conductors. I have also experienced this in adult groups, especially in MS groups and it is a constant task of the conductors to prevent individual group members’ negative moods, their anger at the world, infecting the atmosphere of the group.


So yes, anger is there sometimes. Communication cards have to be laminated to protect them from it. Not only that, conductors need to be on their toes to disperse it, to create and restore calm. Group members need their wits about them too, so that they can do whatever they can. Most importantly anger should not be ignored.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Apologies

"Treasure Island" by Susie Mallett, March 2010

Sometimes I feel very proud of my abilities, with my rattling old computer, to rustle up as many blog postings as I do and all with no computer training. I just fiddle around to find out how, or ask someone how I can find out how, if there happens to be someone around.

My sort-of-step-son is a big help, a mine of information and also quite as proud of me as I am for being able to do what I can on the computer. He thinks for an oldie and a woman and sort-of- Mum that I am quite cool when we chat on Skype about computer problems!

BUT...

There is something wrong and I cannot find out what it is. My blog postings sometimes go haywire. Sometimes when I look at my blog all seems fine and the next time that I look the spacing has gone bananas and the font size is almost so small that it is invisible.

SO...

I apologize to you all for the sometimes awful lay-out, the sometimes tiny script and also, so I have been told (though it is invisible on my computer) for the sometimes lines of computer language between the paragraphs. Any spelling mistakes and grammatical errors are mine, I cannot blame the computer for those butI apologize for those too while I am at it!

All I can say is that the photographs seem to be publishing as they should, so if the worst comes to the worst I will resort to a month of paintings again.

I think the problem lies with Blogger and not the computer, because at least from this computer I can cut and paste. When I try to post from a friend's computer I have to write directly into the blog. This is something that I discovered a couple of months ago to be a risky business, as sometimes postings just disappear!

Please keep reading and please keep enjoying my "painting exhibitions", while I continue trying to find a solution to the problem.

Follow up……

"Me as my Mum", portrait of Mum by A.B. aged 9, 2006



...to Eins, Zwei, Drei

I am continuing here the conversation with German conductor number three who commented on my Eins, zwei, drei posting early last week.

This is the response that she wrote on the comments section of that blog posting, followed by my response to her, posted only here.

Thanks Susie for your once again great blog. I am enjoying our professional discussions a lot and its nice to discuss CE apart from with my only conductor colleague, with someone with so much experience and knowledge.After reading your blog I was wondering if what is offered to young adults in regards of jobs and job choices conductively mainly depends on the kind of CE provision they attend.

Here, we are mainly offering sessional once a week services. In those few hours, I feel, we are working very hard to maintain the level of skills of our young adults, rather then pushing it really forward as mostly, and despite our hardest attempts, CE is not carried through at home. Going on a bus trip or even to the local grocery store usual is not feasible, and following up with one individual client seems to be come impossible with 60 clients to two conductors ratio. But maybe there is a way…


I
am also looking forward to hear how other conductors or provisions work with young adults and getting them ready for and into the workforce.

Aenna (3rd /2nd German Conductor I guess ;-)

Aenna, yes I think that you are right, the type of centre or the type of conductive provision that is available for babies, children and teenagers certainly does influence what is made available to them as young adults when they go off into the big wide world.I do not however believe that it is a case of the number staff available to do this work but has more to do with the priorities that a centre has.

How do they wish to use the facilities that they have, including the staff.
It could be that a centre says “We provide for children between certain ages and then there is a cut-off point”. It could also be that this is all that some clients wish for. Then there are other centres that may say “We are here for our clients, for their whole lives if needed, and this includes offering conductive provision of some kind through into adulthood.”

Summer camps are offered all over the world, I do not believe that it can be any easier or more difficult to organise a summer camp with a very "traditional" conductive programme han to organise one where the skills of daily life can be practised. Activities, for example, like planning a menu and a shopping list, or taking a trip to the shops on the bus to buy the ingredients to bake a pizza for lunch. Or organising group discussions, role-play and activities to encourage young adults to develop skills useful to them in the different situations that they will find at work or at college.

At a summer camp, in my experience, there is always enough staff to do such things.So yes, Aenna, I agree there probably is a way.
No, there certainly is a way but, as the Dad in the link in my later blog posting says, the will has to be there first. Personally I see no reason why, if some clients move on into work placements or university, then visits to them, when asked for, cannot be built into a centre’s timetable, just as their sessions as children were timetabled.

Unless of course this is a matter of who pays for it.

This is probably the crunch of the matter everywhere but, as I said, where there is a will there is a way. Lets ‘keep on talking about it and one day we may just find it.

Notes

Susie Mallett, Eins,zwei, drei -

Susie Mallett, Strange how things keep cropping up -
http://www.susie-mallett.org/2010/05/strange-how-things-keep-cropping-up.html

Friday, 14 May 2010

A day off

"Life is precious" May 1st, 1983
Justify Full

A dreary day, weather-wise. The perfect weather for indoor things like blogging and reading and commenting and thinking, doing crafty things and painting.


After wondering for a long time about an appropriate comment for Gill’s recent blog posting, I came up with nothing. Having also sat and read a new book that I have acquired, written by a stroke victim, it is hard to ignore the fact that it is often forgotten that all disability must result in some sadness, however much the world celebrates the wonders of today’s medicine, and however much one decides to get on with life.


The article from the Daily Mail that Gill mentions caused me to be sad, the book that I am reading is sad too but, just like the newspaper article, there is not only sadness there, but something else too, h Hope.

You can read the article and see for yourselves, the book is in German, so not accessible to all who read this blog.


A locked-in spirit


The short book has been written withblinking-of-an-eye dictation and a laser-activated computer, by a young lady who suffered a stroke at the age of thirty-two and who as a result has locked-in syndrome. This means that from the neck downwards she cannot move at all and is dependent on others for all her needs, right down to filling in the answers in her mathematical puzzle books.


This morning I have only got as far as reading the first section in which she describes her life after the stroke. She describes the ups and the downs of the years, the hopes and the despairs, the sadness and the fears. At the very end she says, but with no regrets:


“I believe that if I had remained healthy, without the disabilities I now have, I would have been highly successful either on the stock exchange or in the computer world as an academic.”


She says that since being locked-in she believes her brain to be more active than it ever was before and that, because of all the experiences that her active earlier life gave her, she is able to master better the life she has now.

She believes that the positive outlook that she developed in her active young life is what she falls back on to help her live the new one to the full. As I said, it is a sad story but at the same time while reading it I can not help but be uplifted by this lady’s spirit.


Tough Strokes


In my stroke group we often discuss how the experiences of life pre-stroke have great influence on the new, unexpected life. The personality that has developed certainly does not disappear from the one second to the next when a stroke can occur. Stroke victims continue to be the people who they were previously, just like the lady with locked-in-syndrome. My clients motivate each other to talk about their interests, discuss their aims and wishes and ambitions. We try to move away from the sadness, from the mourning of what was or could have been, and see what can be achieved with the present and the future that they face now.


They all have amazing stories of courage to share, just as the lady in the book, which is called “ The walk with an incident in the middle”. Not many will have the chance to write their story in their own book but, like the story of the man with the new car and his freedom, I will try to share as many stories as I can here for them.


Now I am going to paint a picture and make a cardboard station building for my N-guage, the one my dad bought me when we were together at Easter.


Notes


Gill Maguire -

http://www.conductiveeducationinformation.org/2010/05/very-difficult-decisions.html


Spaziergang mit Zwischenfall - Birgit Hoffmann, Edition Fischer, ISBN-10: 3-89950-146-2

Susie Mallett -

http://www.susie-mallett.org/2010/05/not-stroke-of-luck-but-hard-work.html

http://www.susie-mallett.org/2010/04/first.html