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Ability Camp
Conductive Education

We live in a time of medical wonders. Doctors now have the equipment and technical expertise to save many preemies that previously would not have survived. Unfortunately, very fragile babies are at high risk of complications. Even with the best medical care, some preemies may suffer an injury to their brain which will lead to the diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy.

Cerebral Palsy can affect any child (not just Preemies) either before, during, or after birth and results in delays in normal development. Cerebral Palsy can also be the result of a brain injury. Symptoms and complications can range from mild to severe and can affect many different areas such as; vision, hearing, eating, swallowing, sitting, standing, walking, communication, cognitive abilities and seizure disorders.

In the hospital babies and even preemies are supported by a small army of professionals fighting for their survival however once they are strong enough to be sent home many parents are left wondering, "What do I do now?"

Except in severe cases, many doctors adopt a "wait and see approach" and are reluctant to place a diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy until up to two years after a child is born. Much of the child's physical, psychological and emotional development occurs during the first three years and with this delay, precious time is being wasted. Even after a diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy or a complication like brain injury, parents are not being given adequate guidance and training to help their children through this crucial phase. We have noticed a very disturbing trend over the past years where premature children with Cerebral Palsy are becoming more passive and dependent on their parents.

In the "Mom and Tots" program at Ability Camp parents work in small groups with the direction and guidance of our Conductors (therapists). Parents are taught the importance of their attitudes, expectations, and how daily activities can help children learn age appropriate skills which serve as a foundation for growth both now and in the future.

During this five week session parents spend five hours each day actively working and interacting with their child (structured exercises). These routines are carefully designed to mimic the basic skills required for daily life activities such as rolling, sitting, standing, feeding, potty training, washing etc.

Premature children who have suffered a complication such as a brain injury or Cerebral Palsy can make significant improvements, generally far above what you would see in a traditional setting. Even more importantly, parents will come away feeling empowered with a plan for their daily activities at home and having a firm knowledge of things they can do to help their child improve each and every day.

Conductive Education Aims

Preemies or children that were born full term can suffer complications such as a brain injury for many different reasons which can include lack of Oxygen, trauma to the brain either before or during birth and can result in a variety of developmental delays that may not be noticeable until regular milestones such as sitting, rolling over standing etc. are not reached. For most of these children Cerebral Palsy will be the diagnosis finally given.

This delay in normal development may cause children not to reach the normal milestones and in most cases will have a continuation of infantile reflexes which most children grow out of during their first week after birth.

The continuation of these infantile reflexes can greatly hinder the progress of your child such as the Moro reflex an exaggerated startle reflex where a child upon hearing a loud noise will arch backward and throw their hands up. This reflex is very dangerous for a child learning to sit or walk as they may fall backwards and hit their head if startled.

Another common infantile reflex is "mirroring" where a child tries to move one limb and the opposite limb moves at the same time this can prevent learning to crawl or walk. Many of you may see your child bunny hopping where both legs are moved at the same time.

Another reflex may cause a child to arch their back and lock their knees when their toes touch the floor, this also inhibits their ability to learn to step.

Our children need to learn to overcome these and many more infantile reflexes as well as learn to develop movements in a more correct fashion that will allow function. We use a series of exercises that breakdown the individual components of movement and then combine these movements into functional daily routines.

Some of the aims or goals that we may have for children depending on their present condition are listed below:

General Skills

  • To develop hand-eye coordination.
  • To reduce uncoordinated over movements.
  • To develop coordination of movements.
  • To increase security and balance.
  • To increase attention and independent task solutions.
  • To increase activity, independence, participation and level of attention in group activities.
  • To follow task and keep relaxed position.
  • To achieve, or at least approach orthofunction.
  • To teach the parents how the children can apply the abilities learned to every day activities

In a Lying Position

  • To learn to stretch and separate upper and lower limbs,
    keep wrist and feet in a correct position, head lifted and in a mid line position.
  • To reduce unwanted simultaneous and over movements,
    to learn to keep the state of rest for a longer period of time.
  • To learn the basic movements of upper and lower limbs,
    rolling over in both directions, sitting up.
  • To learn to stretch upper and lower limbs, maintain them in a correct position.
  • To learn to keep back in a corrected position in various positions.

In a Sitting Position and Manipulation

  • To learn to relax upper and lower limbs and achieve correct foot and wrist position.
  • To learn to keep back in a corrected position in various positions.
  • To learn secure and correct independent sitting position either with or without support.
  • To develop basic and fine manipulation abilities, differentiated finger movements.
  • To develop manipulative abilities, grasping and releasing, transferring toys between hands.
  • To learn aiming tasks.

In a Standing - Walking Position

  • To learn to stretch upper and lower limbs, maintain them in a correct position.
  • To develop stretching and separating of lower limbs in different positions, relaxation of hips.
  • To teach child to fall securely.
  • With decreasing help, learn correct weight bearing, weight shift and increase security of standing while grasping with both hands.
  • To learn bending and lifting legs up when stepping, keep hips in a straight position with reduced help.
  • To learn to walk with sticks or canes securely.
  • To increase security of standing and walking
  • To learn to step with correct length and width of stepping.
  • To learn to bear weight on legs with support for longer periods of time,
    to prevent collapsing, by keeping lower limbs in a corrected position.
  • To learn to keep heels down.

Eating, Dressing and Potty

  • To teach her/him to eat with a spoon, to chew correctly, to drink from a cup with reduced help.
  • To increase independence in dressing/undressing.
  • To develop potty training, to teach her/him to sit on a potty with support/alone.
  • To learn to use the toilet.


  • To attain correct breathing for longer periods of time.
  • To make sounds.
  • To develop vocalization and to encourage the use of simple words.
  • To learn to reduce dribbling.
  • To encourage him or her to speak more loudly.
  • To use sound instead of signaling.

It takes many muscles to move in coordination to do something as simple as taking a drink from a cup, for instance; the trunk must tighten in order for it to support lifting an arm, the muscles in the shoulder, bicep and forearms must tighten to raise the arm while the opposing muscles such as the triceps must loosen to allow the arm to move, the brain must realize the position in space of the cup and the arm as it is moving, fingers must grasp the cup and lift it to the mouth, lips must seal around the cup before it can be tilted and the contents swallowed.

We take so much for granted every day, however our children may have to work very hard to achieve what is common for the rest of us. It is important for every parent to know that with the proper training for them plus a solid and consistent learning environment at home

A day of hard work at Ability Camp

All children need a regular routine to help them adjust to their environment, and learn to adapt to the demands made on them. The daily routine is a way of providing a learning environment for the child. Within this program, the child has the opportunity to practice and repeat skills they are learning or have learned.

All aspects of the child's development is included - physical, functional, psychological, social, cognitive. The automatic movements which we take for granted in our daily lives do not exist in the child with cerebral palsy. These movement patterns have to be learned.

For example, for the functional movement "raising the arms above the head and put the T-shirt on", the child with motor impairment must practice it in many different situations, ie in supine lying, in sitting, in standing, before they can do it automatically.

Ability Camp's children's programs are offered in several age groups from a preemie or a child that was born full term and suffered complications such as a brain injury or Cerebral Palsy. These programs range for children who are from 7 months to 14 years of age and we work with children with varying degrees of involvement.

We can help children improve that have difficulty in sitting, standing walking etc. as well as children that may have difficulty with the use of their arms and hands. Some may have severe physical limitations and may not be able to roll or sit while other children may be able walk independently.

Whether your child was a preemie or born full term with complications such as a brain injury or Cerebral Palsy our Conductive Education programs treat this as a learning problem more than a physical disability as it is the brain's control over the muscles that has been affected. We use a combination of teaching methods combined with therapeutic exercises to help teach the brain to communicate with the body more effectively. Although we do work with children that have cognitive delays Children that have the ability to understand and take an active part in the class will get the most enjoyment and usually make the most progress.

Many of the children we work with have seizure disorders and this is not a problem as long as the seizures are reasonably controlled.

To assure a child is appropriate we do an assessment before they are accepted into a program. This can be done in person, or can be done by sending us an application and a video of your child as the majority of families travel from great distances to attend. We do not charge a fee for the assessments in person or by mail we just want to make sure that we will be able to help your child.

Last but not least, mostly what makes your child a good candidate for these programs is a parent’s intuition, who believes their child is capable of accomplishing more than what they are currently doing.


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