Dual Sensory Impaired
The most famous writers in this field McInnes and Treffry writing in Canada in 1982 helped to define the population by saying:
‘The deaf-blind child is not a deaf child who cannot see or a blind child who cannot hear. The problem is not an additive one of deafness plus blindness. Nor is it solely one of communication or perception. It encompasses all these things and more. The deaf-blind are multi-sensory deprived; they are unable to utilise their distance senses of vision and hearing to receive non-distorted information’
In the Department of Health Social Care for deafblind Children and Adults Policy Guidance it was made clear that it is not always the amount of problem with these two senses that matters...
‘The term dual sensory loss can be used interchangeably with deafblindness denoting the fact that combined losses of sight and hearing are significant for the individual even where they are not profoundly deaf and totally blind. It is the way in which one sensory impairment interacts or compounds the second impairment, which causes the difficulties, even if, taken separately, each single sensory impairment seems relatively mild.’
At Linden Lodge we know that dual-sensory impaired/deafblind children and those with problems with many of their senses (multi-sensory impaired) need some special consideration and specialisation.
Effects of being dual-sensory impaired / deafblind
Being deafblind affects a child’s...
Environment – particularly their ability to
- Get information from their ‘distance senses’ (hearing and vision) about their world,
- Learn through 'incidental' learning – a deafblind child will not learn by just ‘noticing what is going on around them’ – they will need to be ‘taught’ in a much more ‘concrete’ way,
- They will have difficulty with structuring Information. It is hard for them to understand which bits of information go together - when does one activity or event start and stop etc?
Need for more Time – for everything!
Motivation – why would you be motivated to do things if you do not see or hear ‘the point’ or do not get the encouragement?
- This has a big effect on the child’s mobility. Mobility only really happens because we are motivated by our senses to get towards/away from things.
Communication - This is also closely connected with the above point
'Mislabelling'. Children who are deafblind often have very idiosyncratic learning styles / behaviour, which may have a perfectly good sensory ‘reason’, but which may look to some as similar to the behaviour of children with learning difficulties.
Children in Linden Lodge who are dual-sensory impaired/deafblind may be able to benefit from some of the following;
- We have a specialist in deafblindness who visits the school weekly and can assess, give advice about and work with children with dual/multi-sensory impairment.
• Joint assessments are regularly carried out by the specialist teacher, which involve school classroom staff, members of the specialist VI and HI services, Speech and Language Therapists, other members of the therapy team and parents.
• There are a number of Intervenors in school. These are specialist Learning Support Assistants who have experience and training in the special needs of deafblind children.