Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The human factor:It starts with the Conductor

I've had a number of surgeries before arriving in Budapest. A Hospital can be pretty traumatizing for a six-seven year old and some nightmares haunt me 'till this day. Back in the 1980's, at least in Central Europe surgically correcting the hips and then cutting bellow the knee and the Achilles heel was a pretty standard procedure in Cerebral Palsy children, all requiring many weeks in a cast every time. Times were different back then and parents had only limited opportunity to visit, the settings were scary and sterile, and the nights- quiet and lonely. Before my surgeries, to spare me the trauma my mother would lie to me about why and for how long I would be there and that was the reason why I didn't trust her when she told me that Budapest would be a completely different experience. And it was. For once I felt safe, the exercises were engaging and fun and predictable. I found comfort in this predictability- you knew what was going to happen that day, nobody was being taken away for surgery, nobody had to fast, nobody was in pain. Just exercising, singing, and fun. Nobody wanted to cut me open, in fact there was no operating room at all! You perform so much better if you don't have to live in fear of what's happening next. You can relax. And your only goal is to get better.

We all developed personal relationships with conductors, part therapists, part teachers, motivators, educators and organizers. They would even make our sandwiches and serve our meals on the floor. That was the amazing thing about conductors- we used to call them "aunts" in Hungarian because in reality they were everything and anything in between. They even moved the heavy plinths around the room making them stowing them away to get ready for the next session. I remember how some of them gave me gifts, how some tried to kiss me because I was adorable as a child. We cared about these women and they cared for and about us  (I say women because men were only working in the sick wards). I remember how we all cried when conductor named Marika came to say her final goodbyes at night. She returned after her shift as we were sleeping, just to be with us a little longer. It was an experience and a memory for all of us. Even if you don't trust the Peto method and you don't know what it is, consider the role of the Conductor. They have years of training in both education in therapy. They know how to deal with children and they are Cerebral Palsy experts. They often modify routines and exercises because they know what works and what doesn't and they learn to adapt. Back home, rehabilitation wards popped up around the country, but they were in hospitals- they had white walls and hospital beds and although just like in Hungary we called the women "aunts" they were nurses.

We are lucky to have a  Hungarian conductor at our Academy. Her years of experience with Cerebral Palsy children would make her a senior conductor by now. She is an asset an every year she gets offers from other centers in America, but she feels attached to the Klausners and our Florida community. She wants to help local children, although she could easily make more money and be in a bigger facility elsewhere. What a person needs to be a Conductor doesn't always come from a classroom. You have to be a certain type of person. Loving, caring, engaging and loyal. Understanding and motivating. Human. Motherly. The human factor is what I think people overlook the most when they define or throw around terms relating to conductive education. Is it this? Is it that? Perhaps we can all agree it starts at the basic human level. With a Conductor.

No comments:

Post a Comment