Children with motor disorders struggle with simple tasks that most of us take for granted. The milestones that parents look forward to celebrating – watching their children sit up on their own, feed themselves, walk, even hold their heads up unassisted – present major challenges. For motor–impaired children and their families, conductive learning can be a miracle that brings independence, self–confidence and a better quality of life.
Combining physical therapy and special education in a peer group setting, conductive education helps those with cerebral palsy, spina bifida and other motor disorders gain control over their bodies and perform tasks they previously struggled with. Students gain increased mobility, strength and problem–solving skills – and along with them, better self–esteem and motivation. The ultimate goal of the Conductive Learning Center (CLC) is for every student to become confident, active and self-reliant, gaining as much independence as possible as they go out into the world.
For children with motor challenges, early intervention is often the most effective. It's for this reason that the CLC's Parent and Child program, aimed at children up to three years old, is one of their most important offerings. Parents stay with their children at all times, working directly with conductors and learning how to teach their children basic skills (walking, talking, eating, potty training) in a fun, playful manner. While the program is based on each individual family's needs, it's also taught in a group setting – giving parents the opportunity to engage with others who face the same challenges.
It's part of the CLC's mission to make its programs more accessible to the families who need them by keeping tuition costs down. Scholarships are available, and other fees are set on a needs-based sliding scale. Thanks in part to Art Van, they are able to keep tuition costs down by about half. They also offer a free four–week trial for West Michigan children who might benefit from their program. CLC Executive Director Karen Mueller O'Neill says that Art Van's assistance has been incredibly valuable to the center. "Art Van has been a key community partner of the CLC since 2011. Their support has allowed us to build our 'Champion a Child' scholarship fund and has provided general tuition relief to families that would not otherwise have access to our life–changing programs," she explains. The increased exposure thanks to their association with Art Van has helped in other ways as well: "Our partnership with Art Van has also helped to increase awareness of our programs, connecting us with families in need."
For those families, the work being done by the CLC has proven to be absolutely invaluable. "CLC is a life–changing experience," according to student Laila's mother. "I believe the program is as much for the parent as the child. I say this because I see my daughter through eyes that no one had ever taught me before. I see her possibilities instead of her disability." Learn more about the Conductive Learning Center at conductivelearningcenter.org.