Communication
for Children with Deafblindness, or Visual and Multiple Impairments

Factors to Consider

The instructor’s level of comfort with proximity: Early strategies may require that we be in close physical contact with our students. Often, this will be the only way they can get information about what we are doing.

Previous experience: Our kids bring a variety of experiences with people and objects, along with associations they have or have not built. These associations may be positive or negative. Even if a child has had all the same experiences as a non-disabled peer, his or her perceptions of the experience will be vastly different.

Incidental Learning:
when a child experiences the world using all of the senses, he or she can gather a lot of information just by observing things that are happening nearby. Even when hearing is intact, auditory processing difficulties may be present and undiagnosed. Auditory information that is not linked with any other senses may not give the child very much usable information, even when there are no processing problems. When the most reliable way of sensing the environment is through touch, the only things that are perceived about a situation are the things with which the child has come in direct physical contact. This vastly influences what a person does and does not know about.
Sensory processing differences:
when a person has neurological differences, information that is processed through intact sensory channels can be interrupted before it gets to the area of the brain that processes that information. The information may also be processed differently when it does get to the brain. That can cause our students’ perceptions of the world to be very atypical. Neurological differences include brain malformation, brain damage at birth or later, autism, etc.

People Skills vs. Object Skills: Some of us have better people skills, some have better object skills: both are important and need to be considered. Strategies for improving on your student’s skills in either area will depend on their developmental level.

Excessive stress and learning do not mix: stress can keep neural pathways from forming and constant stress over time can break down neural pathways that have already formed, making people forget things they already know. We need to create learning environments that minimize stress for our students so that they can build and strengthen neural pathways.