Special Education for Cerebral Palsy

Conductive Education

Conductive Education

Conductive education, or CE, is an educational system that has been specifically developed for children and adults who have motor disorders of neurological origin such as cerebral palsy. It is based on the premise that a person who has a motor disorder does not only have a medical condition requiring treatment but very importantly a problem in learning that requires education.

The spread of CE throughout the world has probably in large part been due to the advocacy of families who appear to have lost confidence in already existing systems of treatment. These families strongly regard CE as a potentially effective response to their needs. Because of the successes of and interest in Conductive Education, other scholars have begun to examine the CE approach.

Research studies of the efficiency of conductive education have been inconclusive, however.

Origins Of conductive education

Conductive Education’s origin lies in the works of Professor András Pető

A) The child is a unified whole.

The detrimental effects of a brain injury impede the whole development of the child, therefore practitioners of conductive education prefer a treatment that considers the individual as a unified whole and provides an overall, holistic intervention.

Holistic means that everything in life, the total functioning of the individual, personal development and social organization, is seen as interdependent, interconnected, multi-leveled, interacting and cohesive. This idea of “whole” underpins the system from which Peto thought that children with motor disorders would benefit.

B) CE targets the whole personality

Allport wrote that “Personality is the dynamic organization within the individual of those psychophysical systems that determine his character and behavior and thought.”

This definition implies that personality is not just a sum of traits, one added to another, but rather that the different traits are held together in a special relationship to the whole. Dynamic implies that the individual’s personality is constantly evolving and changing.

From time to time and from one situation to another, there are changes in the structural organization which is influenced by the concept of self. Conductive education attempts to build up the impaired children’s personalities gradually in a manner appropriate to their age.

In Peto’s system, the individual is not a recipient of treatment; s/he is an active participant in the learning process. CE is conceived of as a partnership between educator and learners to create circumstances for learning- it is an all day learning process

C) Activity and intention.

Peto asserted that restoring the interrupted learning process is not possible without the active participation of the individual, and those consequently passive exercises or patterns cannot change or improve the functional stage of the individual.

D) Continuity and consistency

In conductive education, continuity is considered necessary to reinforce a new skill. An opportunity to use the same skill for many different tasks is also considered essential. The system has to provide possibilities for children to practice emerging skills not only in specific learning situations but in the many inter-connecting, in-between situations of which life consists. In order to achieve this, CE turns any given part of a child’s day into a learning situation.

E) CE is an interdisciplinary model.

Peto believed that in order to provide a unified treatment it is vital that the group of professionals who are responsible for the program have training based on the same philosophy and relevant practice. Instead of a multidisciplinary approach, Peto applied an interdisciplinary model where a single specially trained group of professionals are responsible for the planning and implementation of the whole process.

The components of Conductive Education

Peto’s system consists of many interrelated facets. While the elements of this system can be identified and analyzed, these elements cannot be used separately from each other. Conductive educators believe that conductive education works only as a unified system, not as a composite or amalgamation. Conductive Education as a system has six significant components

  • The Group
  • The Facilitation
  • The Daily Routine
  • The Rhythmic Intention
  • The Task Series
  • The Conductor


Conductive education has been assessed in only a few controlled studies which have focused mainly on progress in motor skills, and the method has been compared to traditional physiotherapy. These studies have failed to demonstrate the superiority of conductive education. There has been no scientific examination of long-term success or cost-effectiveness.

A review that included less well-designed studies concluded that the research literature did not provide conclusive evidence either in support of or against conductive education and that the limited number of studies and their poor quality made purely evidence-based decision-making about conductive education impossible.

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