My visitors today

Sunday 19 June 2011

That was the week that was

Newcastle, up and down the Tyne
by Susie Mallett, 2011

And very interesting it was too!

I am not going to let it go now it is over, as Millicent Martin recommended each week at the beginning of That was the week that was, on the BBC in the 1960s. My week was far too interesting to let it go by without a mention, which is what That was the week that was was all about; rounding up the highlights of the week.

Returning to work, or to Petö as it is called here in Germany!

Having spent some days in Newcastle the week before I arrived back at work last Tuesday, Monday was Whit-Monday bank holiday, to find two messages from former clients and today I had a pre-arranged meeting with a third.

The oldest of my former child-clients

I met a thirty-year old former client, who now works and lives abroad, for supper on Tuesday evening, and for the first time since I have known her, about fifteen years, we were joined by her mother. From the beginning of our work together this client always dealt with her own conductive arrangements. It really was very interesting to be with both mother and daughter observing how their relationship has grown and changed now that my client is living independently, far away from home.

This young lady is at home for a short holiday and the reason for the meeting , apart from to say hello, was to arrange some appointments for her in the conductive adults groups in the following weeks and to take a look at her aching feet that were playing up and preventing long distance walks. A quick massage under the table and a few instructions to Mum on how she can help were all we could manage until she joins us in our group next week.

Three souls all went home happy after this reunion.

The youngest of my former clients

Before I left work on Tuesday and had that surprise meeting described above I received a phone call from the mum of a twelve-year old girl. This child attended sessions with me for two years when she was still in Kindergarten. We worked together with the family in preparation for her next step up to school. This child joined a group that I had at the time that was for children who found it difficult to concentrate when playing games and had difficulties therefore in forming relationships with their peers. They found it difficult to carry out a complicated series of movements like walking in through a slalom, throwing and catching balls, hopping and jumping, and climbing in and over objects, all due to their impatience and inability to concentrate, rather than any physical disorder. Their fine motor skills were also under-developed through lack of practice because they were all far too fidgety to sit still long enough to improve them. Practice was needed so that they could successfully use scissors, pencils, paint brushes and paint, avoid knocking board games flying, spilling drinks and knocking into things. They all needed to learn how they could adjust and fit into a teaching and learning environment at school.

These were children who years ago would have been described as clumsy, perhaps later as hyper-active and these days if taken to a specialist would be diagnosed with ADHS/ADHD. At the time that they were in the conductive group none of the children had been given a diagnosis, none-the-less their families recognized that they needed a little bit of help on the way to being accepted into the school system no matter which type of school they eventually attended. We could give them the help they needed because these parents choose to embark on a conductive upbringing.

Once at school the system left little time for these children to attend our sessions but now as school poses more challenges for one of them she is returning to us after the Whitsun holiday to join our after school group. I am looking forward to meeting her and I am sure that our other children will welcome her back into the fold.

And one in-between

This client is a seventeen-year-old. Now a delightful young man who I met one afternoon last week, but he was only seven-years-old on the day when our dustmen at the centre came to the window and picked him out as the one to help them with the bins! It must have been his cheeky grin and his professor-glasses that made him stand out. What an adventure it was as we assisted him out to the garden to help the dustmen, unfortunately he has forgotten this incident but we have not and we talk about it often to the other young children.

This young man has recently had an operation that was followed by three weeks at a rehabilitation clinic. Unfortunately soon after the operation an injury to one foot left him in pain and unable to stand for many weeks. He decided that because things were not progressing as well as he had hoped that he would like to do an intensive conductive week in his holidays, so he phoned me.

He lives his life conductively at home. Home is a house in Munich that he shares with other teenagers with disabilities, but during the day at school he spends a lot of time sitting. He is not as active as he wants to be or as much as he knows would be good for him. He wants to be able to stand again for some of his lessons, and this is what he wishes to achieve in the work with me.

I visited him at his home to discuss what we could do together. One thing he was quite sure of was that he wanted us to speak English so he would not forget too much of what he has learned during the holiday. He said he wanted to work with me alone, not in a group, and for six hours every day. He decided that he wanted to cook his own lunches instead of ordering them from the kitchen and he surprised me at the speed in which he planned the menu, asking me now and then what I like to eat.

What a gentleman!

Families needing more than one, two, three, four, five

Something that I concluded from the three meetings this week was that not only do these clients want to return to work with me in order to develop their skills and improve their physical abilities, but they and their families are also in need of help in other aspects of their lives. They are all searching for other things that they need in their lives and have asked me to help them.


I realised once again how important my role as a mediator is, helping families to bring together all aspects of a client’s life. I spoke about this in my presentation last week in Newcastle and as soon as I got back to work the importance of this role was reinforced for me immediately, many fold.

I was asked by the mum of the thirty-year-old for advice on buying electric scooters and wheelchairs, and about the pro-and-cons of them both.

I was asked about courses for young people who wish to learn how to use an electric-powered wheelchair in the street and another person needed advise on where to find a course to learn how to use a wheelchair that is not powered most efficiently.

I discussed with one family the best way to use splints post-operatively and also met a physiotherapist to decide together on the best type of rolator for a young man with athetoid cerebral palsy. I was asked my opinion on different types of schools from parents who have to make a new choice for their child.

Later last week I met the man, who makes our boots, mends our bikes and advices us on everything that we might possibly need. I put many of my client’s questions to him and I received many answers. I also knocked on the door of a family who are the centre’s next-door neighbours, people who know all about the wheelchair-training courses that take place in the next city. So by the time I meet my three “returning” clients next week I will be armed with lots of answers and I expect that I will be bombarded with even more questions.

As well as meeting these families mentioned above I also met my stroke and MS clients again. Our the main point of discussion this week was how to get the ticket that allows people with disability to park in designated spots. Not all my stroke clients have one of these because they are not all registered as having a 100% disability. Despite not having this registration they are still not able to walk very long distances and they really do need to park near to their destinations. We found out what they need to do to apply for the change in their registration something that they will need to do before they then automatically receive the disabled-parking identity card.


It is half-term holidays; the children are all away at the seaside, at their grandparent’s or simply taking it easy at home and the adults groups are in full swing. We have fitted in the sessions for adults between the numerous bank holidays and extra days off that make up long weekends. Because it is holiday time the classroom assistants and young people on work experience do not have their children to look after or lessons to go to, so they are visiting the adults groups. They have been taking part in the programme and/or watching us work depending on how many we people we were in the room and if they have to write reports on their observations.

I had a call on Wednesday from a soon to be retiring physiotherapist who several years ago wanted to train in Hungary to be a conductor but her family circumstances prevented her from doing so. Now she has time to renew her interest and asked if she too could come to visit our group to observe our work. She ended up on a plinth too with the stroke group and in two weeks she will return to see the littlies at work.

I really enjoyed this busy week. I was mediating, teaching and advising and I even had a little bit of time left for painting with my young autistic client. We made a break-through this week when he went over to the table with the canvases and paints on it, dressed himself in an overall and asked me if he could paint. That was a first! In the past this young lad has needed quite a bit of persuading to get into painting gear and he has never actually asked me before if he can do an activity.

It is so good to have such interesting work, and this week I was even happier with what I was doing with all its diversity as I had been thinking so much about my roles as a conductor of mediator, researcher, communicator and much more, when I wrote and presented the paper in Newcastle. You can read more about it here:

The week ahead

I wonder what the next week has in store for me. School is still out for Whitsun so again there will be some changes in the routine. I will meet all three of the clients who have returned to the flock and I will have a few visitors again.

An added joy will be cycling on the almost empty streets for a few more days.



That was the week that was -

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