Our son’s spina bifida was never discovered during the pre-pregnancy ultrasounds. Instead, upon his birth, the doctor remarked that Gramm appeared “. . . to have a little spina bifida. . . . ” Immediately, our hearts raced and our minds blanked. What was spina bifida? Could we “fix it” with medication? A surgery? Or a brief period of physical therapy? We felt helpless.
Within minutes, our small-town hospital room was inundated with doctors, nurses, and an emergency transport team—all cooperating to prepare our son for an emergency transport to our regional children’s hospital. One particular doctor stood at the foot of our bed—slowly sharing with us a laundry list of complications, impairments and limitations regarding our son’s future. Apparently, it was his job to prepare us for the “worst-case scenario.” That is what most doctors, agencies and insurance companies did over the next several weeks. Everyone’s expectations for our son were low. And our spirits deteriorated gradually with every disabling report.
But hope revealed itself in an unexpected manner—and from a previously unknown place. Through a series of conversations and interactions, we were introduced to the Conductive Learning Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Only 10 weeks old, we brought our son for an evaluation with Andrea Benyovszky. And for the very first time, we were not told what Gramm “wouldn’t do”. Instead, we were challenged to consider all of the things that “he would do” through hard work, determination, and a commitment to Conductive Education.
Up until this moment, doctors, surgeons and insurance companies had been focusing upon Gramm’s inabilities. They believed in “reacting” to his challenges as they presented themselves. It was their philosophy to “treat the problems as they appeared”—understanding that Gramm’s life would always be terribly limited.
Conductive Education doesn’t wait; it is not an exercise in reaction. Instead, the conductors introduce the children and parents to a committed lifestyle (it takes work!) with a proactive attitude—teaching, training, and instilling within the children the proper way to perform any number of movements, tasks, and responsibilities (such as crawling, standing correctly, and potty training). Conductive Education begins as early as possible, introducing the child and the parents to a series of strategic exercises, coupled with fun songs and full of purposeful movements. In this manner, the child’s muscles, nerves, and mind are stimulated—both increasing and maintaining flexibility while building strength and self-confidence.Our son, Gramm, turned four in January 2010. And his large, brown eyes flash with life as he walks down a crowded sidewalk. Yes, he walks with canes. And he ascends stairs with dignity. And he is achieving a greater sense of independence with each session at the Conductive Learning Center. None of this would have happened through traditional therapy or surgery. Thankfully, we found a better way!
Susan and Shawn Hulst- Parents
To provide opportunities for individuals with motor challenges to achieve optimal physical, cognitive and social independence through the application and promotion of conductive education principles.