I’ve somewhat explained what I’m doing here, but I’m going to try to explain a bit more about the practical placement now. I am “in group” about 10 hours each week, split into two days. I am in 2 sessions on a Tuesday and 2 on a Friday. Right now, I am in Parkinson’s and Stroke groups, and will be switching soon to new groups, including an MS group. There are between 3 and 8 people in a group usually, and it last about 90 minutes. Depending on the group I have a different “job” in the session. In stroke groups I stay with one participant the whole time, and facilitate their movement. I help them do things such as clasp their hands, take steps, do tasks while lying down, etc. In Parkinson’s I move around the room facilitating all of the participants. I am learning how to best facilitate, depending on the disorder and the individual. There are some “tricks” to facilitation. For example, bending the wrist in a certain way will help loosen fingers that are stiff due to a stroke. Extending the thumb away from the hand will help stop a tremor caused by Parkinson’s. Flexing an ankle will help bend a hip. As first year students, we are in the sessions learning the basics of these things. We are learning the symptoms of each disorder and how Conductive Education can help. In a Parkinson’s group we look for precise movement. There is a quick tempo to the movements because Parkinson’s causes movement to slow down (bradykinesia). In Stroke we watch for symmetry and awareness of the more affected side. There is a slow rhythm to the movement because stroke causes tightness in the muscles (spasticity).
Some days are better than others. Some days I feel like I just don’t know what I’m doing, or that I am constantly facilitating incorrectly. There is so much information to take in, and not much time in a session to process it. Other days are really good. The good days definitely outweigh the bad. It’s great to be in a group and actually know where you are meant to be throughout the session, know who needs facilitation for a particular task, know what equipment needs to be used, etc. It is great to connect with the participants and feel like you are actually a part of helping them learn. In addition to physical facilitation, we are also there to facilitate emotionally. Some participants need a lot of reassurance, some just want to joke around and have fun whilst in group. The way a Conductor connects with an individual can have a huge impact on the amount of success achieved by the individual.
I am constantly reminded of something one of our instructors told us at the very beginning. She told us to “respect the person enough to learn about their condition.” She told us to read personal accounts, because they’re the experts on their disorder. To us, it’s a condition in a book, a condition we work with. To them, it’s life. We don’t learn just to “fix” them; we learn to try to understand them, to see the world from their perspective. I want to respect them enough to spend time and effort learning about what is now, their reality, their everyday life.
I’m not sure how well this explains what I am doing. I find it difficult to articulate. But I hope it helps you understand just a bit of my world as a training Conductor.