CatherineThe months of September and October '13 were very busy. I lectured at several places in the USA, but assessed, sometimes as part of my assessment presentations several children. Again and again it shows that our “approach” brings many (positive) aspects of the child to the surface, which have not been discovered before. A nice example is Catherine. With permission of the parents we have copied part of mother’s blog and the video clips she took of the assessment of her daughter.

Here it follows:

And then, as if the month couldn’t get any better, we got to visit with Dr. Jan Van Dijk, the world’s authority on reaching deafblind children. He was even knighted by the Queen of the Netherlands for his work and he received the Anne Sullivan award (you do know who she is don’t you?) I called him the Special Needs Whisperer, and he came all the way from the Netherlands to see Catherine. Catherine can hear just fine, fortunately. She’s registered with Maryland’s Deaf Blind Connection because of the difficulty reaching her given her extreme challenges with communication. And Dr. Van Dijk – I’ll just call it miraculously – got her to sing!

Published in Jan's blog
Thursday, 26 January 2012 10:59

The Role of the Emotional Brain

Published in Jan as Producer
Thursday, 08 December 2011 13:57


Perkins School for the Blind - webcastsOn the website of Perkins School for the Blind you can find some very interesting series of on-demand webcasts which are presented by experts in the field of visual impairment and deafblindness.

Whether your interests are professional or personal, you will find topics of interest.

In collaboration with Perkins I published two webcasts as part of the above mentioned series. We have received permission to link it to our website.

You can watch both webcasts directly on this website via the next links:

Published in Jan as Producer

Every two years, the Outreach Programs of Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI) organize a symposium on deafblindness. I was honoured by an invitation to present a keynote address and two breakout sessions at this year’s symposium.

Despite the unusually bad Central Texas weather (snow, ice and slippery roads), which caused over 100 people to cancel, the turnout was very good. Almost 300 parents, professionals and paraprofessionals attended. The symposium’s organization was excellent, as were accommodations at the Omni Austin Hotel.

Many people who came to the symposium had also attended the most recent Deaf-Blind Multihandicapped Association of Texas (DBMAT) annual conference, where I spoke last October, so I carefully previewed the content of my presentations with Chris Montgomery, one of the symposium organizers. I did not want to repeat information I had already presented.

Published in Jan's blog
Monday, 19 April 2010 08:54

The theory of Neurobiology

From the beginning of my work with deafblind children, I was interested in the medical aspects that played such an important role in their development. Confronted early in my career with all the problems of children with CRS (Congenital Rubella Syndrome), I saw the enormous impact the Rubella virus has when it enters an embryo early in pregnancy. It arrests the growth of cells, and affects numerous aspects of the child’s development.

The same can be said of children with concurrent vision and hearing impairments due to genetic dysfunction. I’ve discussed Usher Syndrome and CHARGE Syndrome, which are each caused by the dysfunction of a particular gene.

Published in Jan as Author
Monday, 19 April 2010 08:51

The theory of Attachment

Over the years, my work has been increasingly influenced by the theory of attachment. This theory deals with how the principal caregiver develops a bond with his/her child. (A lot of research in this area is currently taking place.) There is clear scientific evidence that a person who has bonded with his principal caregiver(s), usually one or both parents, will profit from this basic feeling of security through his or her entire life.

Eye contact is very important in the bonding process.

Published in Jan as Author
Monday, 19 April 2010 08:40

The theory of Sensory Deprivation

The follow up research on CRS (Congenital Rubella Syndrome) showed how deterioration of hearing and, in particular, vision significantly impacts behaviour and learning. These people become detached from the world. They withdraw into themselves and often lose previously acquired skills.

To better understand a deafblind person’s stereotypic behaviours, autistic tendencies or Autism Spectrum Disorders, as well as the low intellectual capacities of many of these people, it’s important to consider the role of the senses in these processes.

Published in Jan as Author
Monday, 05 April 2010 10:11

Usher Syndrome

For more than ten years, I was the coordinator of a multidisciplinary team at Viataal (Sint-Michielsgestel), which assessed people who had hearing impairments and concurrent visual problems. The team consisted of an ENT specialist with great interest in syndromes, an ophthalmologist, an audiologist, a psychologist, and mobility instructors, who also functioned as assessment assistants. The Center, called the "Vision Assessment Center," used assessment techniques that provided important information about a person’s hearing and vision, behaviour and learning. It was the coordinator’s job to translate all the information into practical suggestions for (re)habilitation, learning, and improvement of behaviour.

Published in Jan as Researcher