A very quick bit on autism and deafness

 I had to do a quick piece on ASD and deaf children.

Autistic spectrum disorders are a constellation of difficulties typically involving communication, imagination and socialisation.

Deaf students often have other difficulties alongside of their deafness because the cause of the deafness also causes the other difficulties. Causes such as meningitis, rubella embryopathy, or prematurity. Autistic Specturm Disorder (ASD) is precisely one such difficulty.

The big difficulty is that communication and socialisation problems are often consequences of deafness (notably for the 90% of deaf children in hearing non-signing families) – and they are also hard to assess using tests based on hearing norms or if you are a non-signing deafness-naïve assessor - so it is very difficult to distinguish autistic traits from the consequences of the student’s sociolinguistic context in the home and during the early years at home and mainstream school.

There are specific deafness-related aspects of autism and ASD assessment that naïve assessors would never know. For example certain linguistic “tells” in English – such as mixing up pronouns (you and me) for example – in BSL can be far more common placement errors rather than the rare difficulty found in speech.
Jim CromwellComment