University of Edinburgh

Establishing and Developing Communication with young people who are multiply disabled and VI or who are multisensory impaired

Friday 26 May 2006

Individual programme for deafblind people

General principle (valid for all children)

What are the small details a communicator does with a normal child? What are the milestones? How do relationships develop? What is important for the child? The quality of 2 aspects is better than 8 at a specific level. Can be contradictory to what we do as teachers. Allow children time.

Deafblind specific variarions of general principles

Be specific about the disabilities we work with. If the child does not have vsion, or has poor motor control - need to compensate for the lack of these in planning. Use things that are inspiring for the senses we can use. Be creative. Try to create what is happening in normal development. Senses can only be stimulated if the emotions are involved.

Individual variations

Use natural situations for a VI / HI child if it is likely to be different to normal situations. Parents have lots of information in this situation but professionals can help them to do more.

Essential aspects of the quality of life perspective: no long the focus to make these children normal but to ensure that they have a good quality of life.

  • many possibilities
  • empathy
  • identity
  • own subjective experiences as bases for learning
  • coherence and meaning

This last is most difficult to achieve when one has sensory loss(es). Need to step back sometimes and allow child to make choices. Follow the child's initiative and allow them to develop an experience. Experiences can trigger development.

The European Network on Communication with Congenitally Deafblind People (ENC)

Collaboration with researchers.

Studies in literature - how practice and research and influence each other.

Area of focus:

1. The establishment and development of dyadic contact (contact with another (you + me in one bubble - your perspective is in my head and vice versa) and sustained interaction.

2. The emergence of gestural expressions. The co-construction of shared expressions and shared meaning.

3. The cognitive processes of meaning making.

4. Exposure to language.