University of Edinburgh

'Deaf Plus': a look at the learning implications of additional difficulties

Friday 24 February 2006

Marian Grimes

adps deaf peschool children

Medical Conditions (other than VI) and Learning Difficulties

  • 355 individual medical conditions reported;
  • 6 times as many pupils were reported to have social, emotional and behavioural difficulties (146) as the next highest specific learning difficulty, dyslexia (25);
  • 207 children were reported to have 'other cognitive or language processing disorders'.

Why do we need an overall % of 'deaf pupils with additional disabilities'?

  • Planning of additional resources
  • Viewing the 'whole child'
  • Explaining any underachievement?

Percentages reported of ‘deaf children with additional disabilities’

  • 30.2% Gallaudet Research Institute (1983)
  • 38.7% MRC IHR: 'Trent study' (1996)
  • 43.4% Gallaudet Research Institute (2000/01)
  • 30.1% MRC IHR: UK study (1998)
  • 62% Darrin et al: Swedish study (1997)

Do such percentages in themselves lead to lower expectations of achievement compared to hearing children?

If so, is this justified and what are the implications?

  • Do we know how the prevalence compares to the general population?
  • How much does each reported condition impact on learning/access to the curriculum?
  • Who diagnosed the condition and on what basis?

What percentage of all children have special educational needs?

Scotland - Scottish Executive

  • 4-6% benefited from SEN provision in 1998-2001 (pupil census results)
  • 3.7% with RoN/IEP in 2002 (pupil census results)

England/Wales: Dept for Education and Skills

  • 17-20% defined as SEN in 1999-2003 (National Stats bulletin)

coding system for classification of medical conditions

deaf preschool children

ADPS Survey 2000/01 - children with one or more entries in questionnaire related to VI/medical/cognitive conditions*

  • 40.9% when all entries taken into account
  • 35.2% when 'not VI' category excluded (where this is the only entry)
  • 30.2% when 'not VI' and 'category 1' medical conditions excluded (where they are the only entries)

'Other' cognitive or language processing disorders among deaf pre-school children and group A school pupils in Scotland, as reported in questionnaire 2000/01 (n=207)

cognitive or language processing disorders

Some examples of 'other cognitive' entries

  • 'Language delay/immature speech'
  • 'Speech and language development impaired'
  • 'Yes but no specific label'
  • 'Problem with reading'
  • 'Language delay'
  • 'Mild speech difficulty'
  • 'Speech is not entirely articulate'

What is the 'cognitive norm' for deaf children?

Non-verbal tests: performance similar to hearing children

Verbal tests: performance lower, but opportunities/experiences so different that not seen as fair comparison (eg; complexities in relationships between spoken language and literacy, sign language and literacy, etc, etc).

'Interactions of hearing loss, language and experience must be considered if we are to fully understand the intellectual abilities of deaf children and adults…We need to better understand (their) normal intellectual functioning [] in order to adapt our instructional methods to match their strengths and needs'

Marschark, M (2006) 'Intellectual Functioning and Deafness' European Journal of Cognitive Psychology 18(1) p83

There is a need for:

  • caution over broad percentages which include categories of disability 'for which there are no objective criteria for membership' (danger of labelling);
  • further investigation of 'cognitive norms' among deaf children
  • further investigation of meaningful impact of conditions on learning - quantity and quality;
  • teachers of deaf children to get clear information on learning/teaching implications of 'cognitive norms' and of conditions which specifically affect learning.