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Parents’ coaching at the CEC du Gard- Active lifestyle in isolation with handicap, is that possible?

Living in isolation is not something that we were prepared for, nor something that we were expecting to experience one day. Families with children with motor disorder may find this situation particularly hard to live with, as all therapies and services are closed down. There is an on-going national survey interrogating French families, who have children with a handicap, about their experiences during isolation (ECHO) - the result is quite devastating so far. Many parents feel that they are left alone, they witness their child’s regression as a result of the lack of stimulation and mobilisation. This could be a source of stress and frustration for parents who are helpless… However, this situation could be lived differently. Conductive Education with parental guidance (parents’ coaching) may be a powerful tool to assist families in any type of situation, where there are only family members around, and children are in a challenging situation, testing their level of independence. Our own feedback about lockdown is very different from the results seen above (ECHO survey). Our parents in this unknown situation were able to set up their own short-term aim for the isolation time, they know how to motivate, stimulate and assist their children in the everyday life with all self-care activities, how to position them correctly, how to communicate with them, how to guide them to change place or posture. They sent us many testimonies and photos-videos about their active isolation life, and that made us even more convicted that our choice of the project parental guidance was the right one for our families.

At the CEC du Gard, parents’ coaching has been the main project with a Conductive Education program provided all year round as well as in sessions. Conductive Education is a system that integrates all human qualities to create a well-balanced personality and an active lifestyle. The activities of our daily routine are assisted in our conductive centre by the trained conductors and assistants. But it is also a lifestyle that can and must be continued in the home situation as well. Parents’ coaching creates a bridge between centre based conductive pedagogy with professionals and education / re-education in the everyday family and social life. Parents are learning different ways of assisting and positioning their children within the frame of an active daily schedule, and they get more and more confident doing it at home as well. The conductor leading the program establishes a positive teaching-learning environment. We encourage the parents as well as the child to learn the ways of changing place and posture, to coordinate their movements, to manipulate, communicate, improve at self-care activities, and to play and learn as their pairs. We motivate, guide and assist parents to learn those actions and movements necessary to be as active as possible at home. All that, of course, with an on-going guidance and correction of the conductor, especially when the assistance seem to be a bit more « technical ». We provide this « coaching » not only to the parents with very young children, but to all families coming to our program, mainly at the beginning of each session. When families go home at the end of the session (or at the end of each term with children enrolled for all school-year) they understand our aims and tasks for the child, and they can assist their child to live a life at home with an active daily schedule, that enables them to use the learnt skills without difficulties.

Parents are very keen to assist their children correctly. They want to witness the progress with their child and play an important role in the education of their child. In an everyday situation they must assist their children already several times each day to eat, to change place, to sit, to communicate or to use the toilet – this being without any particular situation such as COVID-19. At the CEC du Gard conductive education centre we strongly believe that not only the child with motor disorders has the right to be well assisted in his/her home environment, but also their parents have the right to know, how to install, assist or