Learning about Deafblindness
If you’re visiting this website, you show some interest in learning how your clinical knowledge and expertise as an occupational or physical therapist might best be translated into meaningful action as a member of the educational team for a deafblind student. That’s always the best place to start: curiosity. As an occupational therapist who came to TSBVI with no experience related to visual impairment, I had to learn everything the old fashion way – by making mistakes. Faced with the needs of deafblind children who have trouble communicating (not all of them have trouble), and who have other disabilities that impede functional skill development, it was hard to know where to start. But all of us have to start somewhere, because there are students who need our help.
There’s nothing out there about synthesizing theoretical models and applying them to our work as therapists, about how to take what has been developed in educational settings, by educators, and use those ideas to inform the practice of PT and OT in the schools. There’s no concise information about how various visual conditions impact movement or learning, and no quick references for further reading that applies to us as therapists. This is my attempt to provide that. I hope it’s helpful.
Chris Anne Strickling, OT,
TSBVI Deafblind Outreach Specialist
Students with visual and hearing impairments are as individual and unique as their typically-developing peers. No two are alike! There are, however some features in the development of DB students that are different from what is expected in children who grow up being able to use vision and hearing to make sense of the world. And, in much the same way that DB children are often different from their sighted peers, the educational strategies used for them are often much more complex than those of their friends. Here what you might expect in terms of:
- General overview and definition of Deafblindness
- Syndromes which often result in Combined Vision and Hearing Loss
- Expanded list of syndromes and diseases that cause DB
- The Changing DB Population
- Usher Syndrome People with Usher Syndrome are born with hearing impairment and lose their sight as they grow older from a condition known as Retinitis Pigmentosa.
- Leaflets and factsheets about Usher syndrome
- CHARGE Syndrome A relatively rare genetic pattern of birth defects. The
letters in CHARGE stand for:
Coloboma of the eye
Atresia of the choanae
Retardation of growth and/or development,
Genital and/or urinaryabnormalities
Ear abnormalities and deafness.
Although these features are no longer the focus of a diagnosis of CHARGE syndrome, the name “CHARGE” has been retained. CHARGE students present some very specific challenges to educators.
- CHARGE Syndrome
- RUBELLA Congenital Rubella Syndrome (symptoms passed to an infant when a pregnant woman contracts Rubella, a type of German measles) causes sensorineural hearing loss, often bilateral, and an array of visual problems. It sometimes affects the brain and nervous system. Rubella epidemics from the 1940’s to the 1906’s produced many young people with Congenital Rubella Syndrome.
- History and Change in the Education of Children Who Are Deaf-Blind Since the Rubella Epidemic of the 1960s: Influence of Methods Developed in the Netherlands