Enabling Good Lives: Our Stories

Read through some of the stories from the wonderful people we work with here at the Adult Conductive Education Trust.


Alex sitting in park during sunset

We were so fortunate to learn about Conductive Education when Alex was a baby ….. but it was a long wait and lots of work before we finally got to benefit first-hand how great this programme is. Alex was three years old before we were seen briefly by a Conductor visiting New Zealand – but within a week he was standing with sticks! That was a dream come true for us. When Conductive Education Canterbury began providing services – Alex was five years old and by the time he was six he had learnt to walk independently. Conductors have worked to teach Alex many skills which we had thought were not possible – just goes to show what motivation and perseverance can achieve!

Alex is now an adult who is living with support in his own place with a flatmate. Don’t get us wrong, his disability still impacts on all facets of his life – but actually he has a great life. We know in our hearts that the life Alex has today is a direct reflection of the skills and the “can do” attitude that he developed through Conductive Education. The programme’s focus on independence is so practical and has really impacted on the choices that we were able to make with Alex as an adult.

Alex still attends the Adult Conductive Education Trust every week. He looks forward to the time that he spends at ACET – catching up with people that he has known for almost 30 years socially as well as maintaining his physical wellbeing. When Alex turned 18, he fell off the radar of the hospital system, even though his complex physical needs continue to change as he ages. To have a Conductor monitoring Alex is a huge weight off our minds – we are parents – not specialists.

We are incredibly grateful for the support and opportunities that ACET provides Alex.

Sally and Greg Thomas



Simon sitting in a room smiling

After urgent transfer to Wellington Hospital from Blenheim, Simon was born at 29 weeks gestation by emergency caesarean section.  He was in poor condition at birth, weighed 1080 grams, and further investigations one week later demonstrated bilateral intraventricular bleeds, with Grade 4 haemorrhage on the left and Grade 3 on the right. A repeat ultrasound showed that he had developed periventricular  leucomalacia and he subsequently developed spastic quadriplegia, developmental delay, epilepsy and reflux disease. On Monday 07 February Simon was discharged from Wellington Neo-Natal unit and flown to Nelson Hospital where he remained until he was stable enough to be transferred to Wairau Hospital in Blenheim on Thursday 17 February. Simon was eventually able to go home for the first time on Friday 25 February weighing 4lb2oz

Simon has had a number of orthopaedic operations because of contractures.  He has had open hip abductor releases bilaterally in February 1988 for abductor spasm. In 2001 he had bilateral hamstring lengthening.  In October 2006 he had bilateral lengthening of the Achilles and lateral column lengthening of the foot.  He had surgery for a left divergent squint.  He has had salivary duct surgery because of drooling, and he has also had bilateral grommets inserted for middle ear effusions. Simon also had a Mickey Button inserted for feeding directly into his tummy.

Early Intervention began immediately, with a physiotherapist from Nelson Hospital visiting Wairau Hospital 3 days per week.  The practiced method of therapy was Vojta Therapy.

This method of therapy was to be practiced three times a day, and required stripping Simon naked and using pressure points on his body to gain a reaction from another part of his body.  Three of these sessions per week were at Wairau Hospital. We took the opportunity to meet with Professor Vojta in Melbourne and continued this method of therapy until Simon was 3 1/2years old. This therapy was intrusive to everyday life, Simon detested it and it eventually resulted in his mother having a breakdown.

In 1996 after visiting the Conductive Education Pre School in Christchurch, we sold our home, relocated to Christchurch and Simon began this holistic approach to his development shortly after. Simon had a routine, gained self-confidence and for the first time we felt that we had the support, training and tools required to enable Simon to maximise his potential. Conductive Education is delivered in a group setting, where every part of the daily routine is carefully planned and structured to ensure maximum learning opportunity.  Life skills included sitting, standing, eating, toileting , & self-cares

At age 5 in 1999 Simon attended Room 5 at Addington Primary School, which provides Conductive Education for the primary aged children.  These were happy days. Simon was main streamed for appropriate classes and made a lot of friendships that he still has today. He absolutely thrived in this environment. He began walking with a walker, sitting on a stool, standing with assistance, no longer required a nappy, and developed into a sociable and happy young man.

When Simon was 13, he started Conductive Education at Cashmere High School and continued to develop social, physical and cognitive skills. At 19 years old, Simon began his transition from school and he now attends the Adult Conductive Education Trust programme once per week.  With thanks to the Adult programme Simon is maintaining all the skills he has worked so hard to develop and continues to remain physically healthy.  Importantly,  he has remained connected and retained friendships with his peers through  the programme,  and they regularly catch up to do other various activities during the week.  As parents we continue to feel supported, and benefit from the advice and support of Conductive Education and other families.

Camille and Chris Ross



Isaak is a handsome young man with Cerebral Palsy resulting in severe physical disabilities. He has been involved in Conductive Education since commencin primary school at 7 years of age.

Now at 26 he is healthy with a straight body and little or no body pain or discomfort. He can still walk in a walker and engages in an active social life. We consider that it is primarily his involvement in CE that has resulted in such good outcomes given the seriousness of his brain injury.

The Conductive Education hallmarks of group involvement, repetition, rhythm, encouragement, structure and high expectations combined with realistic goal setting, mean significan and often miraculous outcomes happen.

Being involved with ACET means Isaak continues to practice those things that keep him helathy and happy. Walking in particular is something that is fundamental to health and we notice after attending ACET sessions how much better he is able to walk. Of course you can see how much he enjoys it. The other joy of his life is playing his many guitars and ACET sessions keep his hands flexible so he can strum up a storm.

Sharon and Isaak Holmes