To celebrate Deafblind Awareness Week, our Seashell Sensory team have crafted a series of blogs, delving into different aspects of understanding and supporting someone with deafblindness.
This blog, written by Lead MSI Practitioner, Veena Ramrakhiani explains the benefits of supporting deafblind learners with the concept of closure to reduce high levels of stress and anxiety and increase active engagement.
“Many individuals who are deafblind operate on high levels of stress, and because of this they are not available for learning or active engagement. They are faced with many ambiguities such as Where am I?; Why am I here?; What’s happening?; Where did you go?; When will this be over?.
Added to such questions are ambiguities around communication e.g. Why don’t you understand me?
Deafblind individuals require structure and predictability in their day to day functioning, as the information they receive is fragmented and distorted which can lead to uncertainties about their world. The unknown leads to stress and anxiety and hence there is an increased need for closure.
So, what can we do to support our deafblind learners?
1. Structure, routines and mini-routines so there is predictability
2. In all the routines we have a clear structure of a clear beginning, middle and end
3. The use of FINISH boxes and pouches so every activity in the routine is finished by placing the object or symbol into the finished box/pouch. This is concrete and the learner knows it has ended
4. All activities are meaningful for the learner and when the skills have been mastered and generalized move on to new activity or bring in new things. Do not carry on repeating an activity for no reason, there is an end point and we need to move on to new learning!
5. The symbol for the day of the week is finished when the day ends and the next day we start with the new day
6. At the end of the school day classroom or school symbol goes in the finished box/pouch
7. When there is an end to the school year actively engage the deafblind learner to pack their belongings so they learn the school year is ended. Then when the new school year starts actively involve learners to unpack these belongings. Active participation is meaningful teaching such concepts of closure.
8. When staff are no longer going to be supporting their personal identifier or photo is finished in the finish box/pouch.
These strategies may support to reduce the anxieties they face around events and activities ending reducing their ambiguities and uncertainty.
Please check the presentation on COGNITIVE CLOSURE by Maurice Belote if you are interested in this topic: – The Impact of Cognitive Closure (tsbvi.edu)