Deafblindness describes when a person has a visual impairment or no eyesight at all, together with a hearing impairment or no hearing at all. Auditory loss and vision loss vary from person to person in the deafblindness community. Each person has a different cause to their impairment. For example, some were born with deafblindness while others may have had experiences that made them to develop deafblindness.
Nonetheless, the variation from person to person doesn’t mean you should underestimate or overestimate the level of care and support that a person with deafblindness needs. You may have a child or have been granted the responsibility of supporting a child with deafblindness but need some advice on how to go about it. These pieces of advice may assist you in doing so.
1Be Patient With Your Child
Children with deafblindness may experience various educational and communication issues due to their impairments. Some special needs facilities may not even be able to facilitate the depth of your child’s deafblindness. In these cases, as you’re searching for the resources to facilitate your child’s development and support, it’s important to be patient with your child.
Patience lies in allowing your child to trust the process and understanding that their development isn’t limited but rather stretched out over a longer period of time. A child needs their parent to have continued belief in the progression of their journey. Having patience and acknowledging that deafblind individuals use different ways to communicate is a subtle way of supporting them.
2Actively Engage With Assistive Technology
Assistive technology describes devices or types of technology that are used for adaptive, educational, assistive and rehabilitative reasons for people with both invisible and visible disabilities. In support of a child with deafblindness, it may be worthwhile to engage with assistive technology.
Children with deafblindness may benefit from alerting devices which help with mobility, communication, and orientation. Alerting devices help with participation in activities and life skills. There are low tech alerting devices, such as a hand-held magnifier and there are high tech ones too, such as a device with refreshable Braille displays.
This wide range of devices may allow your child to have options for their educational and communication support. Before choosing alerting devices and assistive technology, your child must undergo thorough assessments. This will allow you to explore the instructions on its use, as well as adequate engagement and access in all areas and environments.
3Continuously Help Develop Their Communication
Due to the various visual and auditory impairments your child may be experiencing, all the typical communication channels are affected. Very few people understand the experience of having deafblindness besides those experiencing it, but acknowledging the communication difficulty is the first step in supporting their progress. It’s important to consistently and continuously support your child in improving their communication.
The active improvement of your child’s communication skills could be incorporated into the activities that they engage in. Learning can be explored within a natural environment context and participated in with room for a good level of social interaction. In support of your child, you could engage in child-guided strategies as a way of improving your child’s communication.
Child-guided approaches include a wide range of methods you can use, such as being actively responsive to your child’s interest and various attempts to communicate, introducing and maintaining a good level of trust, exploring your child’s expressive forms as means of communication, interchanging dialogues, and making use of a range of coactive techniques.
4Seek Help Early
You may want to support your child on your own once you realize they have deafblindness but it’s important that you seek professional intervention. There are people who are trained to adhere to the development of children with deafblindness and opening yourself up to such resources may be rewarding for your child.
Children with deafblindness have various complex needs that require specialized attention. Early professional intervention and guidance are especially important because they allow for nurturance of and improvement in the child’s development. Supporting your child through external assistance may improve the development skills and responsiveness, and assist them in establishing various sequenced routines for communication.
5Understand The Complexities Of Literacy
Reading and writing have been the traditional take on what literacy is for years. However, as people grew to realize that this version of literacy excludes people who are prelinguistic, they began to challenges this narrative. It’s important you understand that literacy is centered around inclusivity. For example, nowadays, people have been introduced to speech learning devices which could be described as a form of literacy.
You should understand that communication is a way of assisting in developing your child’s literacy. Activities such as choice-making opportunities, daily routines and schedules, story boxes and experience books are things you can use to actively engage your prelinguistic child, particularly if they have deafblindness.
Support Your Child
You may never have everything all figured out but there are ways to support children with development disabilities like deafblindness. These tips may be of assistance to you or perhaps propel you in the right direction regarding supporting a child with deafblindness.