The Jackson Center for Conductive Education opened in July 2005. It is the only Conductive Education program in Indiana. It was founded by the family of Jackson DePoy who has cerebral palsy.
Until age three, Jackson had approximately 8 hours of therapy per week through the Indiana Early Intervention program. At age three, he was enrolled in developmental preschool through the local school system. Although he made progress through these programs, he was not self-sufficient.
Jackson’s family learned of Conductive Education in the spring of 2004 from a program aired by CBS on 60 Minutes. After watching this program and researching Conductive Education, Jackson’s parents knew that it was something that they had to try for Jackson. Because the number of Conductive Education centers in the U.S. is limited and there were none in Indiana, the family found a program in Chicago, IL, called The Center for Independence through Conductive Education.
In order to “test” Jackson’s ability to succeed in the program, The Center for Independence agreed to accept Jackson for an intensive four-week program. The program also taught Jackson’s mother, Lara, an occupational therapist, the basics of the program.
Recognizing that Jackson greatly benefited from Conductive Education, and that other Hoosier families could benefit as well, Jackson’s family and friends began fundraising and were successful in opening The Jackson Center less than one year after Jackson’s trip to Chicago.
The Jackson Center is a 501(c)(3) Not-for-Profit Organization. In its first year of operation, The Jackson Center offered forty-weeks of classes. Eighteen children attended multiple sessions. The Jackson Center is funded through a combination of fees for services, charitable contributions, and fundraising.
Conductive Education is a system of learning that improves motor skills for those with motor disorders resulting from damage or disease to the central nervous system. It is not a cure. It is not a major medical breakthrough. It is not even a therapy, but a series of repetitive tasks and education that addresses basic functional movements in a small group setting. Conductive Education operates on the premise that although the human body may have limitations, the human mind does not.
The goal of Conductive Education is to give the child with motor disabilities greater independence in the activities of daily life. Conductive Education looks for ways in which each child can develop purposeful movement, operating on the premise that although the human body may have limitations, the human mind does not.
Accordingly, Conductive Education addresses skills in dressing, eating and hygiene as well as play and learning. Conductive Education strives to equip children with the opportunity to actively experience childhood as other children do.
Conductive Education was developed in 1948 by Dr. Andras Petö at the Petö Institute in Budapest, Hungary and is founded on the belief that motor disabled children can learn and develop physical movement through reptitive skill exercises. While “normally developing children” learn physical movement through assimilation within their peer groups, the motor disabled child must be taught to develop these same movements as a skill set. Petö’s intricately devised learning program utilizes specially trained Conductors who guide and motivate the child through active moving patterns that are eventually integrated into the daily activities of life.
Today, Conductive Education is widely established in Australia, Canada, Germany, Hungary, Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The Jackson Center is the only Conductive Education program in Indiana.
Conductive Education approaches problems of movement as problems of learning. The learning and development of movement, speech and mental ability are approached simultaneously over a period of time to achieve recognized goals. Conductive Education’s intensive group approach is aimed at creating new neurological pathways to overcome significant damage.“Conductive Education’s intensive group approach is aimed at creating new neurological pathways to overcome significant damage.”
Using music, devices and apparatus that aid movement, repetition, and the student’s desire to achieve simple tasks, children develop and maximize functional independence through goal-directed activity, verbal regulation and group dynamics. A child uses speech or inner speech to express an intention, and then carries it out through rhythmic movement. This use of language facilitates and regulates motor activity and focuses attention on the movement.
Conductive Education allows a child with motor disabilities to practice and learn new cognitive organizational skills in a motivating and compassionate environment. The child is encouraged to use new and active problem solving to direct their movements. Over time the child’s brain creates new connections between thought and physical action.
The emotional security and positive atmosphere of Conductive Education classes at the Jackson Center allows the child to express individual creativity and build their self esteem. As they observe other children solving similar problems, they are encouraged to become ambitious, seek help when it is needed, and explore individual strategies for problem-solving related to daily living.