Focus on Functional Skills: An evaluation of Conductive Education for people with Multiple Disabilities in South Africa
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Conductive Education (CE) is a therapeutic task-oriented approach which aims to make people with multiple disabilities more independent, both emotionally and physically. During the therapy, functional skills that are adjusted to the individual’s abilities and needs are trained. This study evaluated its effectiveness in a residential home and accompanying daycares in South Africa, by comparing a group that trained their skill during the therapy with a matched control group who did not train that skill (but who did train another skill). The effectiveness of CE was evaluated by measuring increases in skills during the therapy as well as in the daily situation. The long-term effects of the therapy were also investigated. Moreover, it was examined whether the effectiveness of CE was moderated by the amount of treatment adherence of the therapy or the initial level motor skills of the participant. The results show that participants who received CE performed significantly better than their matched controls who trained another skill. More improvement was made during the therapy when the main elements of the therapy were properly implemented. The effectiveness of the therapy was however not influenced by the initial motor skills of the participant measured before the start of the therapy, nor by the amount of CE therapy prior received by the participant. Conclusion of this study is that Conductive Education is an effective therapy, regardless of the individual differences between the participants, as long as the treatment adherence is monitored and goals are properly adjusted to the skills and needs of each participant.