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What Is Conductive Education

Conductive Education is a system of education for children and adults with physical and multiple disabilities originating from damage to the central nervous system. This system of education was pioneered in the 1940's in Budapest, Hungary by Dr. Andras Peto (1893-1967).

Conductive Education seeks, through a holistic approach, to develop spontaneous and innovative problem-solving skills in people with physical disabilities to assist their maximum integration into society. Central to the understanding of Conductive Education is the concept of "orthofunctioning," which refers to the learning process of achieving an active, independent, motivated approach to the problems of everyday life. The individuals are developing a positive approach to learning: they will have expectation that they can achieve their aims (intentions) with persistence and a knowledge of their own potential. The individuals learn to learn to find their own solutions.


  • To conduct the personality to achieve activity, problem solving, self-expression, spontaneity.

  • To teach a new way of coordination and perception.

  • To prevent a lack of experience and negative learning.

  • To teach a way of living.


  1. Conductive Education approaches physical disabilities from an education rather than a medical or paramedical perspective.

  2. Human development in children with physical disabilities should be encouraged in an attempt to master their environment rather than environments be adapted to cater to their needs.

  3. There is a focus on the total development of the child with particular attention to the integration and development of motor, intellectual, social and academic skills.

  4. Learning and development are maximized when individuals determine their own goals and are highly motivated to reach them.

  5. Specific motor development occurs through activities which are more than mechanical exercises - they are models of how to solve problems and become independent learners.

  6. It is the especially trained teacher's (or Conductor's) role to facilitate this process, by ensuring that teaching and learning are appropriate for a child's particular development level, intellectual ability and personal characteristics.


In Conductive Education, facilitation is the term used to describe anything used to promote learning. Some facilitations can be seen in other approaches, some facilitations are unique to Conductive Education. Facilitations may include:

  1. Physical guidance/assistance: This is the specific physical "hands-on" guidance given to the child by the parent or Conductor.

  2. Verbal guidance, e.g. verbal or rhythmic intentions: this unique facilitation is verbal guidance to assist the child to think about and anticipate what needs to be done next and to assist the child to initiate, control and complete movements.

  3. Daily schedule: this is a timetable of activities reflecting normal daily routines constructed for each group of children on the basis of individual needs.

  4. Task series: these unique facilitations are series of tasks based on whole functional movements or their elements. One simple example is: to drink from a cup, the person requires the ability to sip, keep their head in midline, to reach and grasp the cup, bend the elbow, to take cup to the mouth and then drink. The elements of this functional task are developed through a variety of age-appropriate activities and play in different positions throughout the day. They provide a model of how to solve problems, the content of which is reinforced in other activities. It is the most complex form of facilitations.

  5. Group dynamics: the children are place in a group setting for Conductive Education. The group is viewed as a powerful, motivating force in the child's learning. Many interpersonal and social facilitations are possible in the group. Children also have the opportunity to work individually.

  6. Equipment: The furniture characteristic of Conductive Education is multifunctional and designed to facilitate learning. The furniture entices children to reach out, stabilize themselves and become active. Although not essential to Conductive Education, the furniture provides many facilitations. Examples include plinths or slatted tables, and ladder-chairs.

  7. Motivation: Selecting the individual motivations for each child initially is important - whether it be a toy, a game, an activity which the child enjoys. The aim is for the children to become self-motivated and able to create their own goals and motivations.

  8. It is the 4-year-trained Conductor's role [or specially trained multi-disciplinary team's role] to develop programs based on the individual requirements of each child and the requirements of each group of children. This highly specialized work involves the selection of all the appropriate facilitations required and developing a program that integrates all aspects of the child and group of children. A characteristic of the program is that its content is the normal cultural content of the curriculum and the requirements of life. Only the solution of the learning way is special.

(Adapted from the Advisory Committee on Conductive Education
Spastics Society of Victoria, SSOV in Australia, Dec. 1992.)

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