THE EXCEPTIONAL LEARNER
11 b iii). Give instances of Sensory Exceptionalities
Hearing impairments (the deaf)
Who are deaf children?
The deaf children are those who are born with little or no hearing or who suffered the loss of hearing in infancy before speech and language patterns are acquired. Not all hearing impaired children are deaf. There are those with partial hearing loss.
Classification of hearing impairments
The deaf refer to those children whose sense of hearing is Non-functional. The congenitally deaf are those born deaf
The adventitiously deaf- those born with normal hearing but who lose the sense of hearing through disease or accident
Causes of hearing impairment
Hearing impairment has many causes.
Heredity: 30-60% of deafness is attributed to genetic factors. Deafness can be caused by dominant genes recessive genes or sex linked genes.
Maternal rubella is also known to cause deafness. Maternal rubella refers to a viral infection also called German measles. If the expectant mother suffers from this disease during the first three months of pregnancy, the baby may be born with hearing impairment
Prematurity. Prematurity refers to cases where babies may be born before term and are more likely to suffer hearing impairment than full-term babies.
Rhesus incompatibility (Rh)
The Rh factor affects the babies who have a different blood group from the mother. For example if the mother is Rh –ve and the foetus is Rh +ve there will be incompatibility. The mother’s blood senses the foetus blood as something foreign and produces antibodies that fight the baby’s red blood cells. The baby who has suffered this incompatibility will become anaemic due to the destruction of the red blood cells. The anaemia will cause reduced oxygen supply in the foetal or neonatal brain. One of the complications which may arise from this could be hearing impairment.
Meningitis. Meningitis is a viral infection, which causes inflammation of the meninges If this condition is not checked early, it causes brain damage and one likely complication it may cause in hearing impairment. It is estimated that 8.1% of children lose their hearing after birth due to meningitis
Otitis media. Otitis media is an infection that causes fluid to accumulate in the middle ear. If the condition is chronic or untreated it can create mild or moderate hearing losses.
Characteristics of the hearing impaired children
Hearing impaired children do not hear speech. Consequently, they do not acquire oral language. Intellectually, some deaf children could have superior intelligence, others normal, average, while others may be mentally handicapped.
What are some of the signs of hearing impairment?
Some of the signs of hearing problems are turning one ear towards the speaker, favouring one ear in conversation when the speakers face cannot be seen, Omission of consonant sounds. Other indicators include; not following directions, seeming distracted or confused at times, frequent asking people to repeat what they have said, mispronouncing new words or names or being reluctant to participate in class discussions.
Some of the physical problems associated with hearing impairment are ear aches, discomfort in the ears, stranger ringing or buzzing noises, discharge from the ears or excessive heavy wax building in the ear canal also cause hearing impairment. Frequent colds and sore throats are occasional indicators of infections that could impair hearing.
How are hearing impaired children managed?
Over the years several approaches have been developed in the management of hearing impaired children.
They have been trained in speech reading also called lip reading. They have also been trained in sign language and finger spelling
A combination of the manual method of communication and oral methods has been known to yield fruits. Today technological innovations such as teletypewriters and many avenues of communication through email and the Internet have expanded communication possibilities for all the people with hearing impairment.
The visually impaired
Definition of the term blindness
Blindness is generally defined as visual acuity for distance vision of 20/200 or less in the better eye with the best correction. Very simply put a person will be defined as blind if they can see an object that the normal sighted person can see from 200ft at 20 feet. That means that a blind person has to be very close to the object in order to see it (20feet) while the normal person sees it from 200feet.
Blindness can also be defined from the perspective of field of vision. If the widest diameter of field of vision subtends on an angle no greater than 20 degrees, the person is partially sighted. A person with a visual acuity greater than 20/70 in the better eye with correction has low vision but can learn to read large print. The educationally blind refer to those who cannot learn to read print and who must use hearing and touch as the prominent learning channels.
Causes of visual impairment There are varied causes to visual impairment Infectious diseases like German measles
If the expectant mother contracts German measles during the first three months of pregnancy, the child is likely to be born blind.
Hereditary factors. If the child has a genetic defect affecting chromosomes 14-16 they are born with small or absent eyes.
Accidents and injury to the eyes also cause blindness.
Poisoning caused by the spitting cobra or other chemicals that are harmful to the eyes are known to cause blindness
Tumours, these are growths in the brain which suppress the visual area of the brain can cause blindness.
Problems associated with visual impairment
Children who have difficulty seeing will often hold books either very close or very far from their eyes. Some will tilt the head making an effort to see. The teacher could also notice students with crossed eyes (strabism). These students have eyes that lack coordination in focusing so that they see with each eye individually. Other problems associated with visual impairment are rubbing eyes frequently, squinting, displaying sensitivity to bright lights and or being awkward in games requiring eye hand coordination.
Other characteristics of the visually impaired are:
Problems in mobility: -Whenever they are in new environments they need mobility training so that they can get by independently. In a way, blindness affects speech with blind speaking louder than sighted people. Their speech is slower in rate and lacks modulations. The blind people use less lip movement in the articulation of sounds, they also lack effective use of gestures and bodily actions typical of the sighted.
The management of the visually impaired students
There are special materials and equipment that help visually impaired students to function in regular classrooms. These include large print, typewriters, tape recorders, special calculators, the abacus, three dimensional maps, charts, models and special measuring devices. Instructions in Braille are also useful.