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Psychology and neuroscience of blindness

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Janina Brede

on 20 January 2014

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Transcript of Psychology and neuroscience of blindness

Psychology and neuroscience of blindness
Janina Brede
essay topic
Development of social cognition and social skills in blind children
24 congenitally
blind children
sighted children
with autism
9 blind children most similar to children with autism
9 sighted children with autism matched on age and verbal IQ
autism is the

developmental outcome of abnormality in children’s engagement with their social environment
Expected findings for the follow-up study:
Participants characteristics
-Teacher interview about clinical features of autism
-assessment of verbal IQ (Wechsler, 1992)
-20 min observation:
The childhood autism rating scale (CARS) (Schopler, Reicher, & Renner, 1986), mearusing degree of abnormality
Behaviour Checklist for Disordered Preschoolers (BCDP) (Sherman, Shapiro, &Glassman, 1983) in domains of functioning
Qualitative difference?
DSM-III-R Checklist of clinical features
-autism definition based on a constellation of clinical features
-critical about assumptions about "real" autism
- atypical form of autism may reveal previously undisclosed characteristics --> revisit theories of development of autsim

- role of lack of vision in development of clinical features
sighted children
: limited ability to identify with the attitudes of other people constrains the development of an understaning of other peoples view points (Theory of Mind)
blind children
: increased risk of autism because of their inability to see and engage with other peoples attitudes.

opportunities to compensate for the lack of vision -->prevent/ ameliorate outcome
-contrast in development of both groups
-constant clinical improvement among blind children
-evidence for the possibility of change among blind children with autism

- all autism-like symptoms can be explained as consequence of blindness

- eg. delayed accquisition of symbolic play (Tröster and Bramring, 1994)

-similar symptoms, but different emergence, no common pathway
-delay but not disorder of information processing
-->wrong to evaluate special socio-cognitive features of blind children as "clinical features"
alternative viewpoint
Brambring (2011):
qualitative nature of
expression of autism
-lower proportion of blind children will meet DSM criteria for autism at T2
-blind children will score less on scales of social impairment
-blind children will show greater rise in IQ
-blind children had lower scores of social impairment

-blind children showed less abnormal behaviour at T2 and greater improvement in areas of relating to people, play activity and use of language

-most sighted participants score similar at T1 and T2

-remaining difficulties:
-imaginative play
-peer friendships
-motor stereotypies

observational measures
-small sample
-no discussion of IQ findings
-use of preschool measures for 15 year olds
-"reversible" autism
-blind-specific causes:
-pure delay does not account for longterm difficulties
-value of understanding similarities -->interventions
-difficulties caused by understanding of "autism"
-what is "autism"? -->implications for theoretical development
-further research

conclusion and further thoughts:
relationship between autism and blindness
Journal article discussion:
-What is the relationship between autism and blindness?

-What do these findings tell us about the development of social cognition and social skills in blind children?

-How could "autistic-like" behaviours be alternatively explained in blind children?
any questions or comments?
discussion points:
Hobson, R., & Lee, A. (2010) Reversivle autism among congenitally blind children? A controlled follow-up study.
Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry (51)
11, 1235-1241

Hobson, R., Lee, A., & Brown, R. (1999) Autism and Congenital Blindness.
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders (29)
1, 45-56

Brambring, M. (2011) Response to Hobson's Letter: Congenitall Blindness and Autism.
Journal Autism Developmental Disorders 41
, 1595-1597

Brambring, M. (2001) Integration of children with visual impairments in regular preschool.
Child: Care, Health and Development, 27
, 425-438

Perez-Pereira, M., & Conti-Ramsden, G. (1999).
Language development and social interaction in blind children
. Hove, UK: Psycholgoy Press/ Taylor and Francis.

Troester, H., & Brambring, M. (1994). The play behavior and play
materials of blind and sighted infants and preschoolers. J
of Visual Impairment and Blindness
, 421–432.

Troester, H., Brambring, M., & Beelmann, A. (1991). Prevalence and situational causes of stereotyped behavior in blind infants and
Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 19,
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