Question: How do we enter into the world of tactile interaction with the child who is deafblind?
Human interaction begins in infancy. From when baby and mother share a moment’s gaze – maybe at the pretty necklace that mother is wearing – the process of human interaction is being established. Human interaction is the basis for social exchange, the exchange of information, of ideas, of emotions. Human Interaction is conversation, both spoken and unspoken. Human interaction is the foundation for well-being and quality of life.
How do we join the person who is deafblind in sharing their world, a world experienced through touch? How do we arouse curiosity? What is the path to bonding? Why must we recognize and affirm their communication before a formal language can be co-created?
People who are deafblind are skilled at many things, but we can fail to notice this when we focus on the problems and challenges, instead of recognizing the qualities and potentials of each individual. We should not view being deafblind as a negative state of being in which sight and hearing are not there but instead as a positive state in which active touch, bodily movements, postures, and hand gestures, are the pre-eminent source of information. ( Nicholas, A. M. Johannessen, & van Nunen, 2019)
A Brief Explanation
This website is for parents, family members, paraprofessionals, professionals, and others who wish to better understand quality social interaction techniques and models for communication with children who are deafblind. The website is designed around a common progression, moving from awareness, to what it means to be an active partner, to how quality interaction builds to quality of life.
Our primary focus is on children and young adults who are born deafblind, or what is commonly referred to as congenitally deafblind. To be more specific we are thinking about human beings whose experience of the world has always been a tactile one. These individuals are experts at touch in ways no one else can be, not even an individual who is blind, deaf, or becomes deafblind at an early age. Their worldview is not less, or more than… just different.
Though our focus is specific to children who are congenitally deafblind, we believe that the basic ideas we are sharing apply to all human beings.