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.

I elaborated on this subject in my keynote address at the 1999 European Conference on Deafblindness, in Portugal. In my presentation, Development through Relationship: entering the social world, I said that all possible means should be tried to give a deafblind child access to the sensory world, in order to enhance the child’s neurodevelopment and learning.

I called this gating, which means opening the gate to the brain by using sensory devices at the earliest possible age (vision – functional vision stimulation and prosthetic aids such as contact lenses and other low vision aids; hearing – auditory stimulation [e.g. talking and singing close to the child’s ears, fitting hearing aids and, if possible, insertion of a cochlear implant]). For all the children, and particularly for those who are completely deafblind, compensation for vision loss should be provided through the tactile sense.

For the article mentioned above, go to: or double-click on the photo below.


Development Through Relationships: Entering the Social World

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