Letter: Conductive education may not be a cure, but it helps

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The Independent Online
I FOUND Claire Tomalin's article on the Peto method of treatment refreshingly well-informed and balanced ('The price of a miracle', 16 May). However, one aspect of treatment not mentioned is the development of communication skills in children with disabilities.

Many children with cerebral palsy do not develop speech, even after years of exercises, but they are able to communicate using alternative methods such as sign language, symbols and computers. Such opportunities are offered to few children following a conductive education programme. The current television advertisement for British Telecom with voice-over by Professor Stephen Hawking illustrates how a person with limited speech can communicate.

Perhaps it is time for the debate on the relative merits and pitfalls of Peto and orthodox services to include this aspect of the struggle for rights, independence and self-expression by children with disabilities.

Helen Cockerill

Cheyne Centre for Children with Cerebral Palsy

London SW3