Pan European Networks - Horizon 2020 - page 38

developed four successful intervention
programmes for persons with deafblindness.
Communication coaching
Building on the intervention programme
‘Contact’, we developed different intervention
programmes in which a communication
specialist has a central role as a coach who
analyses a communicative situation. On the
basis of this analysis, the coach trains or
coaches the caregivers just as in top sports.
Caregivers watch a film segment of their own
behaviour in communication with a client. The
coach provides comments on what can be
done differently or better, which skills must be
further developed, when a new concept can be
best introduced and in what way, whether or
not the client is motivated enough for a new
concept, etc.
The caregivers are also coached ‘on the job’
when they are working with a client.
Furthermore, they learn skills to consider the
life history of a client and to communicate as a
team regarding this. In four different PhD
studies, we saw that by coaching the
caregivers, children and adults with
deafblindness made significant progress.
Affective involvement
This PhD study focused on the essential role of
affective involvement (mutual sharing of
emotions) during interaction and communication.
Affective involvement is of crucial importance for
wellbeing because it evokes positive emotions
and reduces negative ones. Fostering affective
involvement based on tactile modality can be
challenging for caregivers. As an instrument for
analysis, the intervention model for affective
involvement was developed.
Three intervention studies were undertaken
involving a total of nine participants with
deafblindness and 34 caregivers. This
intervention programme proved to be effective
for fostering affective involvement and positive
C
hildren and adults with deafblindness express themselves and
understand others without a formal language. They use other
communicative acts, often consisting of bodily movements,
tactile cues, postures and natural gestures. Hearing and sighted
caregivers find it difficult to participate in this world of proximity and
touch. Consequently, this situation can easily lead to severe challenging
behaviours in people with deafblindness, as well as to a stagnation of
their communication and language development.
People with congenital deafblindness often become trapped in
presymbolic communication stages and never learn to express their
thoughts in a more abstract way outside the concrete here and now.
Caregivers, families and clients express a huge need for intervention
programmes to improve interaction, communication and language with
people who are deafblind.
Interpersonal communication
In his framework of ‘innate intersubjectivity’, C Trevarthen describes
interpersonal communication as the ability to share meanings from a
certain ‘ego-alter’ awareness. From this awareness, personal intentions
can be exchanged with another human being.
Intersubjective development in relation to communication and language
occurs in three complementary layers. The first layer is characterised by
harmonious interactions and affect attunement, the second by joint
attention and meaning-making, and the third by symbolic communication
and perspective-taking. Our research group has focused on different
aspects of interpersonal communication for the last five years and has
I S S U E S I X
H O R I Z O N 2 0 2 0 P R O J E C T S : P O R TA L
38
O P T O M E T R Y
Do you understand me?
Professor Dr Marleen Janssen,
of the Netherlands’ University of Groningen,
discusses the findings of four effective communication studies of children and
adults with congenital deafblindness
Professor Dr
Marleen Janssen
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