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When Worlds Collide 2001

When Worlds Collide 2001 The Center for Outcomes and Opportunities for People with Disabilities held a two-day conference in March called "When Worlds Collide: Promises and Realities." The conference discussed wide-ranging topics that are relevant to today's society: How should society treat sex offenders who have mental disabilities? How do teachers cope with children who are mentally fragile? And is Conductive Education a pedagogy that can assist all people, however disabled, to learn? Linda Hickson, William R. Lindsay, Leonard and Francis Blackman and Arthur Levine. c According to Linda Hickson, Director of the Center for Opportunities and Outcomes for People with Disabilities, "The conference provided a unique opportunity for members of the audience to engage with international experts on cutting-edge issues affecting the lives of people with disabilities." The Friday morning session featured Andrew Sutton, one of the major thinkers/writers in the world on this alternative practice. He spoke about "Promises and Cures: Conductive Education and Other Complementary Practices." Sutton, who is the Director of the Foundation for Conductive Education in Birmingham, England, talked about of the origins of Conductive Education and its approach. "Conductive Education originated with the work of the Hungarian physician Dr. Andras Peto. It is directed towards children and adults with motor disorders--problems of controlling movement. In children, this involves cerebral palsies and similar conditions, in adults, such conditions as Parkinson's disease and strokes. "Conductive Education," Sutton said, "approaches problems of movement as problems of learning. It teaches children and adults how to achieve what they want and the motivation to find their own way of doing so. It is not a therapy. Teaching is highly individualized within groups." The Leonard and Frances Blackman Lecture, entitled "Treating Sexual Offenders with Intellectual Disability" was delivered by William R. Lindsay, Clinical Psychologist and Chair in Learning Disabilities from the University of Abertay, in Scotland. Lindsay talked about how to increase the effectiveness of abuse prevention efforts for people with intellectual disability, drawing upon international perspectives based on work with victims and perpetrators of sexual offenses. On Saturday, Dr. Daniel Armstrong, Director of the University of Miami's Mailman Center, the largest part of the Department of Pediatrics at the university, spoke on "Realities of Educating Students with Complex Medical Problems." The focus of Dr. Armstrong's talk was on the group of children who have acquired disabilities as a result of chronic illness. Armstrong presented a model that is being developed at the Mailman Center for the emergence of disabilities in the years after the illness or the illness event. He also spoke about a program developed principally for children with brain tumors that uses "assistive technology," and includes voice recognition software to work around fine motor and visual integration problems. Armstrong is disappointed about the lack of public awareness about what happens to children with developmental disabilities as they grow into adulthood. "That's one of the issues I'm running into with the chronically ill population. We don't necessarily have good medical care for the medical needs of that population. They no longer fall under the educational system. It's an area where there's still a lot of work to do." But on a positive note, Armstrong, feels that the mapping of the human genome will help in understanding the genetics of a wide variety of disorders. For example, he relates,"One of my geneticists has been working on the genetics of Dyslexia and has been able to identify a series of genes and families that are related to the inability to read when a child is six or seven." "I suspect," he said, "that we will start to see the first really dynamic interventions using that genetic knowledge happening somewhere in the range of seven to 10 years. And it's going to raise a whole host of ethical questions and practical concerns about how to use technology in an effective way." [Return to Previous Page] Page last updated: March 2001 Teachers College, Columbia University 525 West 120th Street New York, NY 10027-6696 Copyright © 1998 Teachers College page