Below is a video of Gianna feeding herself with no physical support.
We attended our first Conductive Education program in 2014 doing an intensive 5 week summer camp. During this time, Gianna's seizures were very frequent. Gianna was having a drop seizure every few seconds to minutes almost the entire session of the program. Gianna's average drop frequency most of her life has been every 2 minutes and to see them even more frequent was stressful. Gianna was also having grand-mal seizures which is very rare and we usually only experience this when she is fighting an illness. We never knew the underlining reason of her frequent seizures during this time at camp and the months prior, but we finally got control of them once we got home. It was the following month August 2014, we started Gianna on Medical Cannabis.
Conductive Education is a teaching method. This comprehensive approach uses active learning to reduce the physical effects of a disability. Conductive Education combines physical activities with cognitive tasks, emphasizes communication and takes place in a group setting to optimize active participation and social interaction. The difference between conductive education and conventional treatment is that it’s not a therapy, or a treatment. It’s a comprehensive method of learning by which individuals with neurological and mobility impairment can learn to specifically and consciously perform actions that children without such impairment learn through normal life experiences. The overall goals of Conductive Education include increasing the quality of an individual’s motor function and providing participants with the confidence and problem solving skills needed to live as independently as possible within the greater community.
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Our goal going was to focus on Gianna walking without any motivation. Gianna is amazing, even having all these seizures every few seconds, she still has retained her muscle strength to walk. The problem is that she will only do it for motivation (Food, iPad, a specific toy) The main motivation was always food. She has the ability to do it but she just wont. Once food is not presented, she will just fall to the floor and not use any body control. This makes it difficult for us as parents because she is getting older and heavier. We also didn't like to feed her during therapy for swallowing safety issues. We had never had a problem of her chocking because we have been very careful but this takes time away from the therapy hours to make sure that each bite is given with caution.
Gianna can spoon feed herself but I had always done it in her wheelchair with a tray. Conductive Education get's the child out of their wheelchair even if the child needs some guidance/support. I never had tried before to see if Gianna could sit up and eat without assistance. Being motivated by food, I can't believe we never tried. We were surprised to see that Gianna could hold herself up sitting on a bench with no support and feed herself. This is even more unbelievable considering how many drop seizures she was having. Gianna has always known when a drop seizure is coming on to stop chewing so it's safe to swallow.
We are really happy we enrolled and learned the methods of Conductive Education. We have followed through with some of the activities we learned by implementing them in Gianna's school program.
It was really a great program. Every morning we did stretching and then ladder exercises, art, alot of singing and talking to Gianna (which I need to do more). It was also a learining experience for me as well. I need to tell her more what we are doing with each task. For example: with putting on her shirt to let her know we are putting in her left arm, etc. I'm usually always rushing and I bet 1/2 the time there is not conversation about what I'm doing and why. There was no need to rush at camp. We didn't use any motivation and Gianna had to walk without being carried. Gianna got used to not having food as a motivation to walk. When we returned home, she has never done therapy with food as a motivation! We replaced the motivation with her iPad. The iPad was used as a reward, Gianna finishes the exercise and then she can touch and play with her iPad game. This next summer program, their will be no reward with therapy exercises. (wish us luck )