6th World Congress on Mental Health and Deafness
Riddel Hall, Queen's University Belfast

16-19 September 2014
Pathways to Rights

Prof. Dr. Jan van Dijk

Emeritus Professor Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands. Since 2001 is an international consultant and lecturer. His area of special interest is the assessment of children with multiple disabilities and challenging behaviours. He has been knighted by the Queen of the Netherlands for his services to deaf persons with autism.

Plenary & title abstract

"I want to break free"

Early Deafblindness and the Ingenuity of the Human Brain. Can the Brain Find an Answer when Bereft from the Input of Sight and Hearing? Hindrances to Overcome in Order to Safeguard  the Rights of Deaf Blind Children to Develop Communication with the Outside World.

I will start introducing briefly different persons who can be called `´Deafblind``. They have all in common that they have a dual sensory impairment of hearing and sight. It will be argued that the degree of vision loss  is an important  predictor for developmental outcome. This is particular the case when the person at an early age is unable to distinguish the face of the principal caregiver. (Dale & Sonksen,2002 ) Children with “no-facial recognition” have a significant higher risk of ASD. It can be hypothesized that missing out on the caregiver’s mimicry the mirror neuron system fail to develop. The development of the MNS is considered to lay the foundation for attachment and social behaviour. This can be compensated by sense of touch and smell, in particular by and from the principal caregiver. There are studies who show a superior sense of touch in deaf persons (van Dijk 2012)and of smell in children with ASD.( Valentina Parma,2014)  It has also  been shown that in persons with blindness the amygdala is far more sensitive in comparison with typical persons. This explains the high level of stress in persons with blindness (Sterkenburg,2008 ). It was demonstrated that an “intervenor”, this is a person who interprets the world for a person with( deaf)blindness  can compensate for this. (Nelson 2014;Bloeming 2012.) In  a continuous  tactual dialogue the MNS for touch (Kaysers 2004) can be developed and by providing information   from the world  social and intellectual world  impoverishment can be prevented. 

Organising Committee

Brian Symington, MBE. President.

Dr. Ines Sleeboom-van Raaij.  Co-President/ESMHD President.

Dr. Margaret du Feu,  OBE. Chair of Scientific Committee.

Renata Sarmento. Manager.

Scientific Committee

Dr. Margaret du Feu, Ireland, Chair
Dr. Ines Sleeboom-van Raaij, The Netherlands
Dr. María Gascón-Ramos, UK
Dr. Tiejo van Gent, The Netherlands
Dr. Johannes Fellinger, Austria
Dr. Otilia Rodrigues, Australia
Ana García García, Spain
Dr. Cathy Chovaz, Canadá
Dr. Benito Estrada, México
Dr. Lauri Rush, USA
Dr. Robert Pollard, USA
Professor Marleen Jansen, The Netherlands
Dr. Maria Cecilia Moura, Brazil
Dr. Katherine Rogers, UK
Dr. Joanna Kobosko, Poland

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