My visitors today

Saturday 30 April 2011

Bah, Humbug? Not for me today!

The photographs above are all taken by my Dad and I as we watched. Dad’s great idea, as he said it felt like we were there as real tourists!


One of the themes that the Lord Bishop of London included when speaking for Catherine and William in Westminster Abbey today was the human quality that people who are close to each other have, not for controlling each others live’s but helping to transform each others live’s. Transforming and motivating each other to live life to one’s full potential.

As soon as I heard this I decided: Yes, I will write a blog about it and admit to my readers that my Dad managed to change me just a little bit, to get me hooked and motivate me, through my Mum, to watch the Royals with him. And on such a lovely sunny day when he knew that I would rather be outside.

Me transformed!

I actually sat down to watch the wedding with him, sitting in my Mum’s chair wearing her gardening hat that I hurriedly decorated with ribbons from her present-wrapping drawer.

I had actually planned to garden all day to avoid going anywhere near anything Royal or associated with weddings, hence the gardening hat. But when an excited Dad woke me this morning telling me to hurry so as not miss the Queen, I just could not disappoint him.

I took my seat at the table for breakfast two hours before the arrival of the first Royals. We sat there together throughout the whole occasion. He got the Union Jacks that had decorated my Grandparent’s pub for the wedding of the Queen and Prince Phillip, and then the Coronation a few years later, out of the lumber room at the top of the house. The same flags that I had waved when the Queen came to Norwich to open the Norfolk County Hall over forty years ago and that we had adorned with the name of our football team to take to a Wembly cup final in the early Seventies.

While the BBC did what it is good at, commentating on British pageantry, Dad told me stories about when he and my Mum went to London for the Coronation in 1952.

I know. I had been determined not to get caught up in wedding fever, and I had avoided it all week but it was my Dad’s enthusiasm that got me in the end and his love for my Mum who would have sat there with him with tears streaming down her face as she listened to marching bands and watched the fly-past. Now I have to admit that I really am rather pleased that Dad naturally assumed that I would watch with him. Especially when the planes flew over with a shot of a Spitfire taken from the Lancaster bomber; Mum the Spitfire mechanic would have loved that.

I realised that I was well and truly hooked, and watching and listening intently when the Lord Bishop of London’s words on transformation made me reach for my notebook and begin this posting.

What I and the World saw

I do not really have much to write about what I saw, although I did love all the hats and was glad to see that there were many of them. And I loved the amazing shots taken from inside Westminster Abbey, that I managed to photograph from the TV.

I was also greatly impressed by how the police brought about the transformation of the roads outside Buckingham Palace.

While walking sedately down the Mall, seven policemen on horse-back, and only a few more on foot, led hundreds-of-thousands of well-wishers right up to the railings around the Palace. It was an amazing feat of organisation, it looked like a blossom opening.

They transformed an area that only minutes before had been used for a stately procession into a park for the people. Seen from above this reminded me of the flower that opened at the beginning of Watch with Mother in the early days of BBC’s Children’s Television

I am still very surprised that I became one of the millions of spectators today. I had been determined to garden and then make a start on the renovation of my Mum‘s old 1939 Raleigh bicycle that I last used when I was an eighteen-year-old art student. Instead I got so infected by my Dad’s enthusiasm and his memories of being there with my Mum that I just had to join him.

Six weeks ago when a friend from New Zealand, who is visiting Europe at the moment, told me of her plans to join a group of people at the British Embassy in Budapest for the wedding I asked her: “Whose Wedding?“ At that point I really had no idea that there was to be some good-old-British pageantry on show during my visit to England.

In the swing of it

Now six weeks later, after a week in England, there I was glued to the television with the rest of the world. So with that one surprise over, the second surprise is about to happen. Dad and I are just transforming ourselves at this very minute into more respectable residents, to join the official street party!

Now I would never have thought I would be doing that when my friend mentioned The Wedding just a few weeks ago.

I suppose I did once surprise the other members of the British conductor-student group in Budapest. None of them could quite believe it when I accepted the offer of the chance to meet Princess Diana on the occasion of her visit to the Petö Institute. I was considered even then a very unlikely choice. I am not a Royalist but I do enjoy observing and even taking part in unusual occasions. And I am ever ready with the camera to record it all.

Wednesday 27 April 2011

Easter observations with Aimee

"A host of Easter blooms"

by Susie Mallett 22 April 2011

I was answering Norman Perrin’s comment and the story just got longer and longer so I will post it here instead.

Thank you Norman for the motivation.

Norman, I thought of you as I posted this link. I remembered that you once posted something on your blog about observing your grandchildren as they developed. I knew as I prepared the posting that I would soon be playing with the new addition to my family and loving every minute.

Easter Sunday with Aimee

I watched and interacted with my thirteen-month old great-niece once again on Easter Sunday.
First of all I wondered at the fact that she seemed to remember me. Or did she?

It is nearly three months since I last saw her but she certainly did not behave as if she was with a stranger. Perhaps it was because I was with all of my immediate family and because I was not treated by them as someone special, as foreign or as a guest; this little girl did not see any reason to do so either. It is nice that she has accepted me as a popping-in-now-and-then-part-of-life, just as the rest of my family always has done. She is only following the behaviour of those around her.

Whatever the reason for my acceptance, accepted I was and that meant I was free to play with my little great-niece and observe her to my heart’s content. I also gave her, one by one, a bowl of halved grapes and tiny pieces of strawberry that, despite their slipperiness, stayed in her tiny pincer grip.

My learning curve was, I think, almost as steep as hers is in this early stage of her life.
What impress me most was that she did not want to crawl on grass, she does not yet like the feel of it yet. She was really clever deciding what to do in achieving her goal and patience was the key!

Once I had helped to wash and put together the new, but second-hand, Wendy House and it had been fitted with a ground sheet and a blanket in she went and stayed there and played for what seemed like hours with her little toys, out of the sun. Before the ground sheet and blanket were fitted she would not budge. No amount of motivation would make her move.

Of course as in everything about this little girl I related my observations to my work,
I realised that how right I had been to have ordered the new matting for the group-room in Germany. Even I prefer to move about on it and it is obvious that the children enjoy the feel of it and are much more active than they were on a carpet. It is warmer, it is smoother and it leaves no red marks of elbows and knees!

It has the look of a deep-blue sea, inspiring many adventures. We don snorkels and flippers, pretend ones at the moment, even a tank for deep sea diving, and off we go through the depths exploring for whales, crabs, sharks, mermaids and sunken wrecks with treasure.

On other days we dream of bright blue skies with birds and planes, hot-air balloons and fluffy white clouds floating by.

Our old drab carpet could not inspire such fantasies however much it tried.

It is not only the colour of our mat that inspires movement and activity, it is also the texture of its surface and the density of it.

Just as it is the texture of the grass, and maybe its temperature, that does not inspire Aimee to move, perhaps our old carpets and rugs had the same affect on our children.

Our fantasy-inspiring mat is very solid, not giving under the pressure of a foot-step. It gives our learners the confidence to take that extra step because they know that taking a fall will not hurt.

They know that their foot will not snag on the rough carpet.

The children living a conductive life-style often come across such obstacles as the decision whether to crawl on damp, cold and itchy grass, later on in their lives than thirteen-month Aimee has. The children with a movement disorder perhaps could not make that decision themselves at that young age because they could not crawl or roll to get there to experience it. Maybe they never felt it themselves or perhaps they were put onto the grass by someone reacting with a scream because they did not like it. As these children develop and are able to move under their own steam they also become able to make their own decisions such as whether they enjoy the feel of grass under their skin.

My observing of Aimee at play has reinforced in me the importance of helping children with a movement disorder to experience all that non-disabled children just stubble on in daily living. It has reinforced for me the importance of giving them the experience of deciding if they like grass or not as early on in life as possible. There is such a knock on affect, a spiral of actions and reactions that are so important in the learning process.

Aimee did not like the Wendy-house being on the grass so she waited. She was happy with her toys on the picnic rug. She smiled and looked at us, gave us a dolly and then a rabbit to pass back to her. She knew that if she edged forwards and back enough times that sooner or later someone would make it possible for her to go in and just as important that she would make us laugh by doing so.

It worked.

What a lot of interaction there was going on between all her family members as she motivated us into action so she could get into action. And what a lot of experiences are missing from the lives of those children who cannot do what Aimee did. Not only the crawling but the smiling and the passing here and there of toys all part of her spiral of learning and mine too.

Yes, conductive upbringing is hard work, but it is worth it. As I experienced last week with the Littlie on the swing and her shoes, her new white shoes, becoming red with the dust from the ground as walked backwards to give herself a good start to the swing. When I noticed the dirty shoes her reaction was: “So what!”

How right she was. At seven-years old and at last able to swing all on her own she was allowed to get her new summer shoes dirty, in fact we rejoiced in it.

Monday 25 April 2011

Just a thought for today

"Bavaria" March 2011

Sometimes as I watch my great-niece at play I realise how I must always remember what I have recently read on the blog of Jennifer Thayer:

As a conductor and as a great-auntie it is a joy to watch the new baby in our family as she develops. I have been thrilled by all she does since the first time I saw her when she was just three weeks old. Then she was already tracking the sound of her Dad’s voice as he moved from room to room and wrinkling her fingers and toes in delight as her mummy told her about their activities for the rest of the day.

Now as she sits on her little car and begins to discover that she has legs to stand on I am even more enthralled. I watch with eager attention to observe how she does it all and hope to get lots of tips that I can pass on to my little clients.

As I watch I can understand the joy and the pain of parents as described by Rojo’s Mum, parents who have older children with a motor disorder and younger children who do not, for whom every minute of the day is full of conflicting emotions and experiences.

Sunday 24 April 2011

Looking after our bodily-souls

"Happy Easter"
by Susie Mallett, 20st April 2011

I am sure AP would have approved!

I look after my bodily-soul on my bike and sometimes in the swimming pool. Occasionally I even have a series of massages and physiotherapy and when I am with my Dad I treat my body’s soul in his lovely garden.

Conductors from the Petö Institute are trying out different things to do something good for their bodies‘ souls in various groups as described here:

I know that some conductors attend yoga classes and that others go to training studios. There are conductors who are also yoga instructors or personal trainers and they combine their different skills in their work, in the way that I include my training as an art therapist and art teacher in mine. Perhaps they too use these skills after work too, to balance the souls of their bodies, as I use my art skills for my own personal health.

My body's soul I care for with my bike and my soul‘s soul with my art and other bits-in-between-for-conductors.

I wonder what others do.

Most of us work alone or in very small groups. We have at one time had eight conductors working in the centre here in Nürnberg and we managed occassionally to get two or three of us together at one time to do some classes together balancing the souls of our body through physical activity motivating each other by working in a group.

It must be rather nice to work towards balancing the body and soul with a large number of conductors in classes like those described in this article.

Conductors in a group balancing the bodily-soul, I think it is something that András Petö would have approved of.

Friday 22 April 2011

Being brave

"Helping the Easter Bunny"

Several years ago my colleague said to me: “My, you are brave”

When I asked her what she meant she explained that it was because I had left the child that I was working with standing up at the wall-bars while I went off to fetch something that we needed. I was talking to the child all the time, reminding her that she was looking after herself until I got back to her, something that I had learnt from her Mum when we had worked together in the mother-and-child group. At that time she was learning to sit at a plinth, holding on to two rings. I told my colleague that it was not I who was being brave now, or the mother a few years before, it was this little girl.

This Littlie, with athetoid cerebral palsy, now quite a biggie at eight years old next week, stands up from the floor when I am not even looking or expecting her to do so. She then turns herself around, stands between two sets of wall-bars and waits for the action!

There is just enough space between these bars for me to squeeze into and if I am not standing there Littlie uses the space for a multitude of purposes.

She uses this safe space to stand up in when she wants to do many things: play football-skittles, to cook with a table pushed up to her, to play hoop-la, to put on her shoes, as a starting point to practice stepping or just to observe the world. When the helicopter landed on our field last week she struck a similar pose in the fork of a tree trunk!

I had not realized that the wall-bar-space was the facilitation for learning to lean on a tree to watch a helicopter take off, but I know now.

Anyone for tennis?

Yesterday this little girl decided that she would like to play tennis while standing in what has become her special space.

Holding on to the lightweight tennis-racket means using two hands and this then left no hands to hold on to the bars. Now this Littlie can stand for up to a whole half-minute on her own, standing free in the middle of a room, and she can stand in her space between the wall-bars for a long time if she is not using her hands. But to play tennis she has to have a bit of a safety-net, just as she does when she stands there to cook (the table). What kind of safety-net, could we use to play tennis? A stool or a table would get in the way. I could not be the safety-net as she soon realized, because she needed someone to throw the balls to her.

My little client was just about a second ahead of me in solving this problem. The solution, she said, was that I would have to tie a rope in front of her between the two sets of wall-bars. This would prevent her falling forwards, something that in the end she did not do because she had a safety-net!

With the rope tied in place and the tennis racket tight in two hands the game began. I was the feeder of a stream of soft tennis-ball that she sent flying all over the room. Sometimes she hit with such a force that I told her that her brother and father, who are both avid players, had better watch out, there is competition about! This raised a smile!

Fresh and fit for fun and games and learning, and cool with it

It is the middle of the school holiday but this littlie took up the offer of coming as usual to her afternoon group. She was alone, which she says she enjoys because she learns so much so quickly. She was also really fit this week, with no early start like on school days and no home work either.

She is right. She really does learn a lot when she comes in the holidays on her own. And she did come on her own, cycling right into the room yesterday, looking cool in pink sunglasses, shouting: “Hi I am here!” I still cannot quite believe it, that I have a child of seven, going on eight next week, attending the centre who arrives all on her own.

Taking over the lead

Today, after holding the tennis racket in both hands became a bit too much like hard work, she freed the ropes and told me that if I tie her up (this was her own solution to the problem, remember, not mine) then she was going to tie me up too. And this is just what she proceeded to do.

Practicing knots like the girl-guides do

Reef knots and two round turns and two half hitches!

Proper knots were tied around both my arms and my feet and the ropes were then tied on to the wall-bars! Then I was given three tasks to complete before she would let me go. I had to move a ball with my toes and try to knock the skittles over. I managed it after about ten attempts. Littlie had to do a lot of retrieving of balls and she managed to stand the skittles up, with her shaky body doing its utmost to prevent her from succeeding. I then had to throw a ball against the tennis racket that she had tied to the wall-bars, with a little bit of help from me despite the ropes and knots, so that the balls ricocheted into a basket. This took about fifteen attempts as it was extremely difficult to do with my arms tied to the wall. I got the last ball in the target! By the time that was finished with this task there were brightly coloured balls all over the room, it looked as if the Easter Rabbit had been there hiding his eggs.

Important jobs before Easter

Finally I had to do a puzzle, moving a shape in a track using my feet. When this was completed I was freed. With the knots all untied we were able to get on with some important work. First to try out the newly adjusted old, just about worn-out and getting too small rolator, so it can be used at home during the holidays. Then we had to test drive the bike that we have on trial, in order to discover which cycle will be more suitable for the next size up, one with three wheels or a two wheeler with stabilizers. No need to have three guesses as to which one this big girl has set her mind on.

And finally off to the swing

Yesterday this little girl had discovered that she can use the swing that has no back rest and that she can swing herself on it. She realized that she could walk backwards while sitting on the swing and make herself take-off.

After this discovery we learnt how to step backwards, stretching her legs one at a time. She learnt to stand still for a second to balance and then let go, so that she could go whizzing through the air. She can do the leg movements to keep the swinging movement going. This she learnt while still in the Kindergarten, using a swing with back rest and straps like the one that she has at home. Now she holds on tight to the ropes and swings to her heart’s content, with the wind on her back and on her front and in her hair!

I had not realized yesterday that this was such a special treat and achievement and thrill for this child. She did it as if it was everyday occurrence. She walked over to the swing with the rolator that she had borrowed (that is another story) and asked for my help. The swing is in the Kindergarten playground that is usually closed by the time Littlie is outside. It is holiday, as I said, and she was here earlier so could enjoy the garden and its Ikarus swing with wings.

Today she told me that the only thing that she had told her Mum about our work together was the swing and she wanted to try it again today. The increasing number of steps that she is taking on her own were not the hit yesterday, it was the swing. It is as if this little girl just takes it for granted that one day she will walk on her own, but she is not so sure that she will play all the games that her brother and friends play. So she is determined to give them all a go while she has me there to help her. And what better opportunity is there than in the holidays when the Kindergarten is open and the swing there for the use of.

I have sent a picture of said swing home with little girl, with the gorgeous spring weather and a birthday coming up it may be just the job for a present from someone. The swing it is made of cloth and padded a bit so does not slip from beneath her like a plastic one would, instead it moulds itself around her body as she grasps it tightly to her by the ropes. It is just perfect for this wobbly little girl who wants to give everything a go.


The rolator and the eggs

First the story of the eggs

Last week we were really busy. It was the last days of school before the Easter Break and some children were to go off on holiday with their families for two weeks. We realized that we must help the Easter Rabbit to prepare for Easter, otherwise we would not be ready in time.

The last thirty minutes is usually crafty time but we changed it to after dinner so that paint was dry to take home. We were soon very busy painting salt-dough eggs and chickens that we were hoping to sell, with the Easter Bunny’s help. We wanted to raise money for one of the Association’s horses that has recently had an operation on a tumour. He has a huge hospital bill to pay. Our children usually ride this horse and it was their idea to help him out with a donation. We know now that we got at least sixty Euros for our craftwork perhaps more.


As they were busy painting and threading chicks and eggs on to ribbons our friend Évi was at the other end of the table blowing real eggs.

Now this was really much more exciting than painting salt-dough chicks and all children joined together in a chorus to say “I want to do that” , but loudest of all was our little athetoid girl.

So do it they did. What could Évi and I do as we saw them all throw down their paint-brushes and wait. We solved a few problems in record time and the children set to it. There was only one broken egg from a dozen and that was one of Évi's!

It was quite a challenge working out how make holes in eggs without breaking them, to blow eggs without breaking them and then to get the already limited amount of puff all going into the hole. But we are a great team and what Évi and I do not solve the children do.

The children with diplegia held the eggs themselves and were able to rub them on sand-paper to make the hole. They were also able to blow in the hole, but even for them it was strenuous and they too took to the method that we had devised for the athetoid girl. I held her egg and she puffed down a straw with all her might that I held in place in the hole. It worked. By the fifth egg she managed to get the yolk out too. And afterwards she realized that she could now blow bubbles in her drink!


With all the eggs empty ready to rinse out and dry before painting there was a bowl full of white and yolks in front of them. They asked what would happen to it and Évi and I looked at each other wondering who was going to bake cakes all evening or make piles of pancakes. The children quickly decided that they should make scrambled eggs and then eat it. Évi and I looked at each other as if to say that puts all our plans out of the window.

The standing programme now got transferred to the kitchen scrambling eggs and the walking programme to the table, setting it for our snack. One of the children said that this was the best scrambled egg ever, better than his Mum’s even, because he had made it himself. I tried it and he was right it was delicious.

At the end of the day I asked the children what had happened in the last few days to make them all so good. Were there teachers sprinkling them with magic dust? Was it the spring weather and the birdsong that was making them grow and achieve such tremendous things, like walking alone for a few steps more each day or having enough puff to blow an egg?

Another year older

Most of them did not know the reasons but our little girl told me it was because it would soon be her birthday.

In a way she is right because she is looking forward to it so much, her soul is happy. She is really looking forward having her friends with her at a party on a farm where she can climb over the bales of hay, beside them without any fear of hurting herself.

She is also right because she has grown. A year has passed and she now realizes that what I always tell her is true. That is that she will find everything a lot easier when she is bigger. She can reach handles and step higher and grasp better with bigger hands. She will get stronger and her body will learn to do what she wants. And it is just so and she finds it all great and wants to try more new and exciting activities as the world of bigger people opens up to her. Just like in the story of the swing.

Now the story of the rolator

This little girl’s rolator really is a bit small and is ready to be replaced with the next size up. The man who fixes all of this for us said he would come over to sort it out before the holidays and the birthday. On the day before he came the child was out in the garden using it when I saw her approach another child in the Kindergarten group who has a bigger rolator and asked whether she could borrow his. He was sitting at a table at the time, eating a snack. He gave his permission, without really realizing what he had done, and off she went, travelling much faster than before, as the wheels were set differently.

Now Évi and I had not realized that this was why the little girl had wanted to swap, but she had used this rolator before and she knew! The boy who gave it to her was none too pleased. He wanted to go to the sandpit and he realized that when using the rolator that he was left with he had to walk on his own two feet, and not glide over there on his arms after giving one big push as he had been able to do before.

Our man-who-sorts-it-all did a really good job for us today. He fiddled with a couple of screws and made one rolator go faster and the other slower. Both children are walking tall now using their own rolators again. One of them is not too happy about the change because it takes him a bit longer to get from A to B but he will soon get used to it and he will get stronger too. He may also stay in one place long enough to talk to the other children and get invited to hop on to the back of a bike.


Haba Ikarus swing-

Haba airplane-swing -

Multiple sclerosis and conduction

"A very keen trainee condcutor",
September 1989
I had just arrived in Budapest

If you have never seen conductive groups for clients with multiple sclerosis then take a look at my friend Urban Judit in action in this video. I do not have time at the moment to translate what she is saying in the interview maybe I can do it in my Easter-break.

I found this interview and film on the Petö Institute’s Facebook page which is a mine of really interesting information. Take a look.

Thank you to whoever it is who puts that Facebook page together, there is a lot of valuable information here that I hope it is all being archived in the Library for use in the future and to make searching easier for all interested parties out in the conductive world.


Petö Intezet on Facebook -!/pages/Pet%C5%91-Int%C3%A9zet/164626920246313

Sport for all

I was searching for some information on football for children who play using a rolator. There is something in America that a friend told me about but I have not found more than just one picture of one little girl in an amazing rolator. The picture above of one of our clients, is of the action that sparked off the search.

While I was searching I found another wonderful example of sport for people with motor disability.

It is the Olympics coming up next year in London, I have already got my summer holiday planned for the 5th to the 8th of September when the road cycle racing takes place in the hope that I will spot some friends from Canada. Maybe some of the people in this video will be there too, so perhaps I had better get informed about the dates for the rowing events too.

The seed has been sown and my thoughts are already whizzing around the idea of having our own integrated Olympic week next summer.