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

flag_brazilUnderstanding Children who are Deafblind Through Child-Guided Strategies, International World Conference in Sao Paolo, Brazil

by Prof. Dr. Jan van Dijk and Prof. Dr. Catherine Nelson

The Editor of the Journal DBiReview requested the presenters of the pre-conference on Assessment, Drs. Nelson en Van Dijk to write a short report of  their experiences. This report will be published in the January 2012 issue of the Journal. We received permission to publish this  report on our website.

Dr Nelson wrote:

Dr. Jan van Dijk of the Netherlands and Dr. Catherine Nelson of the University of Utah in the United States were pleased to have been given the opportunity to present two sessions on their Child-Guided Assessment Method for children who are Deafblind at the Deafblind International World Conference in Sao Paolo, Brazil.

Within the presentations were descriptions of the methods utilized in the assessment as well as the framework used to determine child strengths, needs, and future directions for intervention. On each workshop day, Dr. van Dijk conducted a live demonstration of the assessment with a child and then the audience used the framework to formulate instructional goals for the children. Later in the conference, Dr. van Dijk assessed a third child to give participants another opportunity to gain knowledge about how to assess children who are deafblind using this unique approach.

Published in Jan's blog
Thursday, 12 May 2011 13:33

Mirror Neurons Group

Mirror Neurons GroupI strongly believe that the mirror neuron system helps us better understand a person with multiple sensory impairments, and propose that “the van Dijk approach” might be based on a system in our brain nobody even knew existed when I began my work.

If you are as excited as I am about this new research from the field of neurobiology, please join our Mirror Neurons Group. Let us see how, together, we can meaningfully incorporate these findings into our practice.

You need to be registered to have Mirror Neurons Group access.

I became interested in the role of mirror neurons about 10 years ago, soon after researchers at the University of Parma, Italy, published the results of their first data. The mirror neuron system (MNS) is a brain circuit that enables us to better understand and anticipate the actions of others. The circuit activates in similar ways, whether we perform actions or watch other people perform those same actions.

Read an explanation by Dr. Christopher Fisher through this link: http://www.bmedreport.com/archives/27282.

To be honest, at the beginning I was a bit afraid that the “discovery” of the mirror neuron system was all hype. But, after studying the MNS in detail (the way it functions when we see or hear another person, our feelings when we watch spiders walk over someone else’s body, etc.), I could understand how people with one or more sensory impairment might have difficulty comprehending the emotions of other people.

Published in Jan's blog

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