How do you know where to begin when communicating with children with deafblindness?
How do you develop early communication, what are some of the modes of communication you can use, and how do you take children who are deafblind to the next level of literacy?
These burning questions were covered by international deafblind expert* Sampada Shevde during a two-day NextSense workshop about supporting children with deafblindness.
Sampada is in Australia to share her knowledge with families and professionals for Deafblind Awareness Month.
‘Every child with deafblindness can communicate and learn—it depends on us to interpret their behaviours and select the right mode of communication for them. It’s all about that,’ Sampada says.
5 top tips for communicating with children who are deafblind:
Sampada shares her top tips for communicating with children who are deafblind.
- Encourage your child to explore their environment—to develop their curiosity.
- Celebrate every small achievement, as if it’s a big one—this includes simple vocalisations, and smiles.
- Remember to respond every time the child does anything that seems like communication—body language, behaviours.
- Communication happens all throughout the day—during routine activities.
- Parents are not alone—other parents have gone through similar challenges, so reach out and find your network.
Sampada says literacy for children who are deafblind needs to be looked at broadly—beyond reading and writing—and consider what kind of activities we can do to encourage literacy.
‘How do we look at the child as a whole? Instead of looking at aspects of the child separately—their hearing, vision, and motor needs, we need to look at the child holistically and how the team comes together to support that child,’ Sampada says.
‘A very effective indicator is if the child is trying to do anything—a smile, turning their head away, pushing something away—these things indicate that the child wants to communicate. Every child is unique, so a solution needs to be found that’s right for each child and their needs.’
Sampada presented her workshop as part of the 2022 NextSense Institute Continuing Professional Education program.
She will deliver a keynote speech at the 11th National Deafblind Conference taking place from 29 June–1 July 2022 in Fremantle, Western Australia.
*Sampada Shevde is the Director of Perkins India, based in Mumbai. Perkins India is an arm of Perkins International, USA that works towards human resource development, material development and development of educational services in the field of vision loss and additional disabilities.