Part One: The Availability for Learning for Children with Multisensory Impairment
The majority of children with deafblindness today have significant difficulties with most or all of their sensory systems, including the perception of pain, smell, taste, touch, and balance, as well as vision and hearing. Because every one of our senses is designed to develop and work simultaneously with all the others, a problem with one sense may result in problems with the functioning of other, apparently unrelated, senses. Two of the senses, the proprioceptive sense and the vestibular sense, are particularly important but often ignored, and they play a key role in helping the brain to attend to the external environment. We need to know about these two senses, how they work, what might happen if they are not working properly, and what to do about it, so that we can make effective contributions to the development of attention, sociability, and functional vision and hearing. Difficulties with attention are often compounded by the lack of body awareness that results from significant multi sensory impairment, so the more effectively we can help children know where their bodies are the more likely we are to gain their attention. A consideration of the functions of ALL our senses can help us to understand why we self-stimulate, and also understand what any child’s self-stimulation behaviors tell about their difficulties and needs. As a result of this perspective many behaviors that are generally thought of as ‘bad’ begin to be seen as actually quite smart adaptive responses. Sometimes accepting, or re-channeling, or even encouraging these behaviors can be much more helpful than merely trying to stop them.
Part Two: Being a Perceptive Reflective Detective: A Multisensory Approach to Assessment and Learning
This session will look back at the topics covered in Part 1 and reflect common threads relating to assessment which have emerged. Consideration will be given to many aspects involved in this topic, such as looking for the right questions in order to get to the right answers, understanding why to assess, what to assess, how to assess, when to assess, and where to assess, and most importantly knowing how to interpret what you discover. The main emphasis will be on observational assessment and the ways that approach can be reconciled and melded with information from more structured or clinical approaches. Jan Van Dijk’s “Follow the Child” will be the guiding principle.
Presented by David Brown
Slides & Handouts