Abstract and Keywords
This chapter starts with a brief historical overview of research on the cognitive abilities of deaf children, to provide a context for understanding learning disabilities in this group of children. Working definitions of learning disabilities will be presented, distinguishing between global disability and specific difficulties. Although much has been written about deaf children’s cognitive abilities, good empirical evidence is patchy and findings are frequently contradictory. This makes it difficult to determine whether apparent specific difficulties are genuinely associated with hearing impairment, or the result of assessment methods or some other factor. However, some consistent findings have emerged and will be highlighted. Current research and views on established disorders such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, and auditory processing disorder (APD) in deaf children will be presented, as will the available knowledge base for other areas of cognitive functioning, for example executive function, memory, problem solving, and sequencing. Areas of overlap among the underlying cognitive processes will be emphasized. Despite a lengthy history of debate on the issue, assessment of learning disabilities in deaf children is in its infancy in terms of agreed methods, and the use of tests standardized on hearing children remains contentious. Issues relating to the use of neuropsychological and other tests are discussed, and a range of possible approaches are considered and appraised. Finally, suggestions for specific areas in need of further research spanning the whole field of learning disabilities in deaf children are outlined.
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