“Deaf/HH Plus is meant to be a positive term, not in any way negative or insensitive to the child who has medical issues along with hearing loss. In fact, I see it as an “A+” or “B+,” meaning the child carries additional positive qualities, but it is a gift that needs to be carefully unwrapped. And it may not appear to be a gift when you first receive it. Time helps you appreciate, understand, and unfold the possibilities. And the “Plus” most often means the child and family has added responsibilities and requires additional expertise.”
-From Children Who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing PLUS, NCHAM E-book: A Resource Guide for Early Hearing Detection and Intervention
What is DeafPlus?
Living with Autism has been the hardest challenge for Antonio, he has a hard time with a change in his routine in general but thrives with routine. He heavily relies on the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) and a clear routine schedule to communicate and predict what is happening next. DPAC has worked tirelessly to increase his ability to express his emotions and/or needs through Sign Language and PECS. The PECS system has been a great tool for Antonio to use in addition to ASL since his (CP) limits him from signing clearly. Seven years later, Antonio has thrived immensely! Now he can express his needs through signing, writing, or typing using the notepad on his iTouch device.
- DPAC (https://deafplus.us/)
Challenges among the families and professionals
➢ When special education services are needed, finding an appropriate placement and supports is dependent upon first obtaining a reliable evaluation of the child’s abilities and needs.
➢ When a child has a complex profile with multiple disabilities, the evaluation becomes more critical.
➢ Finding qualified evaluators can be extremely difficult.
In addition to language access, one must consider:
➢ The nature and severity of the disability.
➢ The child’s age, prior education, and current functioning.
➢ The child’s ability to work independently and in groups.
➢ Support services needed – speech and language, mobility, occupational and/or physical therapy, behavioral support, mental health services, etc.
Even in the best of circumstances, we cannot know with certainty what will work for a child with a unique profile of complex needs. We must continually observe, assess, review progress and be prepared to make changes if needed. Successful strategies for children who are Deaf Plus are future-oriented - the goal being to prepare students to participate in society as fully as they desire once they leave school.
Materials & Strategies Used with Children Who are Deaf Plus
No single specific educational technique is appropriate for all children who are Deaf Plus since each child has unique needs.
Characteristics of a successful program should include:
➢ a high level of structure
➢ specific, clearly stated objectives
➢ a focus on the individual needs of each child
➢ instruction that is step-by-step in nature
➢ practical experiences in natural environments
➢ consistent routines
➢ age-appropriate materials are important
➢ a focus on motivating the child
➢ to the provision of successful experiences
➢ an emphasis on the student’s skills in given situations, not his limitations
➢ over-learning (going over a skill after it seems to be mastered) may be necessary
➢ planning for the transfer of instruction to real-life situations
There may be specialized programs and services available locally for some children who are Deaf Plus. Coordinating services across many different providers, and with the school, can require considerable effort.