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Is there a “theory” Has the “theory” been proven How do you use it to improve practice? Christine Yoshinaga-Itano University of Colorado, Boulder.

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Presentation on theme: "Is there a “theory” Has the “theory” been proven How do you use it to improve practice? Christine Yoshinaga-Itano University of Colorado, Boulder."— Presentation transcript:

1 Is there a “theory” Has the “theory” been proven How do you use it to improve practice? Christine Yoshinaga-Itano University of Colorado, Boulder

2 Is there a “theory”? There is a sensitive period for acquisition of language and communication Earlier access to language and communication Sensitive period means that the probability of success decreases significantly after that time, but it is not impossible

3 Sensitive Periods of Development Sensitive period means that the acquisition of language is more natural, more automatic, and requires less structured intervention techniques Earlier access benefits language learning through all modes of communication and for all aspects of language: semantics, syntax, pragmatics, phonology

4 “Earlier is better” For all modes of communication For all aspects of communication For all socio-economic levels For children with hearing loss only For children with multiple disabilities

5 Language/Communication development should be commensurate with cognitive ability Deaf and hard-of-hearing children haave the right and the potential to develop communication skills at the level of their intellectual potential measured most commonly through non-verbal cognitive development We should not be satisfied with “gaps” between cognitive/intellectual potential and communication development

6 Non-verbal symbolic play (birth through about six) is highly related to semantic language learning and social-emotional development Especially for multiply disabled children, enhancing symbolic play development has complementary advantages in language development For later-identified children For non-English speaking children

7 Auditory development, speech development and language development are highly related to syntax development Auditory development should be a focus option for the first six years of life Speech development is predominantly established in the first five years of life and is highly related to degree of hearing loss and amplification benefit Sensitive period for speech and auditory development primarily within the first five years of life. Sensitive period for basic syntax skills are three to 7-8 years

8 Even when semantic language is strong, students still struggle with pragmatic language development and higher level language skills There are no standardized tests that assess these higher level language skills

9 Different strategies work for different children Deaf/HH only, Multiply disabled, non-English speaking, by age, by degree of hearing loss, by mode of communication etc. Different strategies are appropriate for different ages Different strategies work for different outcomes: vocabulary, syntax, speech, spoken language, literacy, written language, social-emotional, etc.

10 Different goals are appropriate for different ages Infancy: Parent-child interaction (bonding, social- emotional, language interaction skills) (newborn) Access to normal language development (oral and/or signed) End of first year – second year – Semantic foundation Middle second through 5-6 years – Syntax/morphology, continued semantics 3-6 – Simultaneous emphasis on pragmatics 3-6 Refining phonology

11 School-age Age appropriate semantics – expansion of language concepts – schema development – semantic networking – organization of semantic memory structures Conversational syntax established by 5 years of age Higher level embedding – syntax to 7-8 years Syntax development – in written language Pragmatics/Semantics/Cognitive development - intertwined

12 Funded researchers are often not teachers, educators, intervention providers who have worked in educational settings with deaf or hard-of-hearing students – psychologists, physicists, biologists, physicians, rarely teachers

13 Funded research like random assignment to intervention- Simple focused designs - ignore interactions across domains - i.e. study audition without language, study language without social-emotional or cognition…..

14 Most researchers are not knowledgeable with systems, are not teachers, prefer to study children who are deaf or hard- of-hearing without additional issues, such as multiple disabilities, non-English speaking environments, socio- economic issues

15 Contact Information Christine Yoshinaga-Itano, Ph.D. University of Colorado, Boulder Campus Box 409 Boulder, Colorado Phone: FAX:


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