Problems of identification of sensory impairments and deafblindness in the nowadays children with congenital disabilities



This review provides an overview of the challenges of identifying dual sensory impairment in children with congenital disabilities. The concept of deafblindness and the special needs of the group with hearing and visual impairments are reviewed. The difficulties of defining this condition due to the heterogeneity of this group are emphasized. The evolution of the etiology of sensory impairment, typical for recent decades, is described, due to the progress of medical science, which makes it possible to keep alive children with severe genetic pathologies and those born considerably prematurely. The characteristics of cerebral hearing and visual impairments, still insufficiently studied but coming to the forefront in terms of prevalence among children in developed countries, as well as the features of their identification are presented. The difficulties in the organization of psychological and pedagogical assessments of children with congenital dual sensory impairment and the interpretation of their results are considered. The conclusion about the importance of the functional approach in the assessment of sensory functions in children with congenital complex disabilities is formulated.

General Information

Keywords: deafblindness, severe multiple disabilities, cerebral visual impairment, central acoustic processing disorder, functional assessment of hearing and vision

Journal rubric: Psychology of Special and Inclusive Education

Article type: review article


Funding. The reported study is funded by International Foundation of Applied Disability Research (FIRAH).

Acknowledgements. The authors are grateful to the National Resource Center for Rare Disabilities (CRESAM, France), the Resource Center for Support of Persons with Deafblindness and their Families “Yaseneva Polyana” (Russia), the Interregional Public Charitable Organization “Community of DeafblindFamilies” and its Executive Director Kremneva Y.V. for their help in collecting the material.

Received: 19.09.2023


For citation: Khokhlova A.Y., Moreau C. Problems of identification of sensory impairments and deafblindness in the nowadays children with congenital disabilities [Elektronnyi resurs]. Sovremennaia zarubezhnaia psikhologiia = Journal of Modern Foreign Psychology, 2023. Vol. 12, no. 4, pp. 22–32. DOI: 10.17759/jmfp.2023120402. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


  1. Basilova T.A. Ob izmenenii etiologii i struktury narushenii pri slepoglukhote za 35 let nablyudenii [About the changes in the etiology and the disability structure of deafblindness during 35 years of observations]. Voprosy psikhicheskogo zdorov'ya detei i podrostkov [Questions of the Mental Health of Children and Adolescents], 2011. Vol. 11, no. 2, pp. 12—20. (In Russ.).
  2. Vetrova M.A., Vetrov A.O. Deti s tyazhelymi mnozhestvennymi narusheniyami: obzor zarubezhnoi literatury [Children with severe multiple disabilities: review of foreign literature]. Sovremennaya zarubezhnaya psikhologiya = Journal of Modern Foreign Psychology, 2022. Vol. 11, no. 2, pp. 101—112. DOI: 10.17759/jmfp.2022110209 (In Russ.).
  3. Chukhutova G.L. Nedonoshennost' kak faktor narushennogo razvitiya rebenka [Prematuruty as a factor of disabilities in children] [Elektronnyi resurs]. Sovremennaya zarubezhnaya psikhologiya = Journal of Modern Foreign Psychology, 2014. Vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 72—85. URL: (Accessed 25.08.2023). (In Russ.).
  4. Meliksetyan N.A., Khokhlova A.Yu., Dianova M.V., Bratukhina P.Yu. Evolyutsiya slepoglukhoty v Rossiiskoi Federatsii po dannym perepisi slepoglukhikh fonda So-edinenie [The evolution of deaf-blindness in the Russian Federation according to the census of deaf-blind people from the So-edinenie Foundation]. Evolyutsiya slepoglukhoty i chto iz etogo sleduet [The Evolution of Deaf-Blindness and What Follows from This]: sbornik materialov Chetvertoi Mezhdunarodnoi nauchno-prakticheskoi konferentsii po slepoglukhote: g. Moskva, 3—4 aprelya 2018 g. Moscow: INFRA-M, 2018, pp. 11—12. (In Russ.).
  5. Aitken S. Strategies to Help Children who have Both Visual and Hearing Impairments. In Dutton G., Bax M. (eds.), Visual Impairment in Children due to Damage to the Brain. Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010, pp. 245—256.
  6. Obuchi C., Ogane S., Sato Y., Kaga K. Auditory symptoms and psychological characteristics in adults with auditory processing disorders. Journal of Otology, 2017. Vol. 12, no. 3, pp. 132—137. DOI:10.1016/j.joto.2017.05.001
  7. Baker-Nobles L., Rutherford A. Understanding Cortical Visual Impairment in Children. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 1995. Vol 49l, no. 9, pp. 899—903. DOI:10.5014/ajot.49.9.899
  8. Blondel B., Gonzalez L., Raynaud P. Enquête nationale périnatale. Rapport 2016: Les naissances et les établissements. Situation et évolution depuis 2010 [Elektronnyi resurs]. Paris: Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale (INSERM), 2017. 317 p. Centre de Recherche en Epidémiologie et Statistiques (CRESS). URL: (Accessed 18.09.2023).
  9. Bogdashina O. Questions Sensorielles et Perceptives Dans L'autisme et le Syndrome d'Asperger: Des Expériences Sensorielles Diffférentes, des Mondes Perceptifs Différents. Grasse: AFD, 2012. 284 p.
  10. Chabrol B., Desguerre I. Handicaps de l'enfant. Paris: Doin, 2020. 240 p.
  11. Dalby D.M., Hirdes J.P., Stolee P., Strong J.G., Poss J., Tjam E.Y., Bowman L., Ashworth M. Characteristics of Individuals with Congenital and Acquired Deaf-Blindness. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, 2009. Vol. 103, no. 2, pp. 93—102. DOI:10.1177/0145482X0910300208
  12. Nelson C., van Dijk J., Oster T., McDonnell A.P. Child-guided Strategies: The Van Dijk Approach to Assessment: for Understanding Children and Youth with Sensory Impairments and Multiple Disabilities. Louisville: American Printing House for the Blind, 2009. 186 p.
  13. Damen S. A matter of meaning: The effect of social partner support on the intersubjective behaviors of individuals with congenital deafblindness. PhD. [Elektronnyi resurs]. Groningen: University of Groningen, 2015. 179 p. URL: (Accessed 18.09.2023).
  14. Hoevenaars-van den Boom M.A.A., Antonissen A.C.F.M., Knoors H., Vervloed M.P.J. Differentiating characteristics of deafblindness and autism in people with congenital deafblindness and profound intellectual disability. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 2009. Vol. 53, no. 6, pp. 548—558. DOI:10.1111/j.1365-2788.2009.01175.x
  15. F.A. Larsen, S. Damen, H.E. Frölander et al. Guidelines for Assessment of Cognition in Relation to Congenital Deafblindness [Elektronnyi resurs]. Dronninglund: Nordic Centre for Welfare and Social Issues, 2014. 88 p. URL: (Accessed 18.09.2023).
  16. Guidetti M., Tourette C. Les handicaps sensoriels. In Guidetti M., Tourette C. Handicaps et développement psychologique de l'enfant. Paris: Dunod, 2018, pp. 83—134.
  17. Johansen K. Developing a New Nordic Definition of Deafblindness. DbI Review, 2017, no. 58, pp. 76—77.
  18. Lefebvre G., Thibodeau J., Lavoie M.-C. Vivre au quotidien avec un enfant sourd-aveugle: Guide pratique à l’intention des parents et de l’entourage. Longueuil: Institut Nazareth et Louis-Braille, 2016. 56 p.
  19. Lombardi P. Understanding and Supporting Learners with Disabilities [Elektronnyi resurs]. Concord: Granite State College, 2019. [359 p.]. URL: (Accessed 18.09.2023).
  20. Lueck A.H., Dutton G.N. Vision and the Brain: Understanding Cerebral Visual Impairment in Children. New York: American Printing House for the Blind, 2016. 564 p.
  21. Mazel E.C. Cortical Vision Impairment: Assessment and Intervention [Elektronnyi resurs]. Perkins School for the blind. URL: (Accessed 18.09.2023).
  22. Mazel E.C. CVI Consulting Interview [Elektronnyi resurs]. Perkins School for the blind. 2020. 8 p. URL: (Accessed 18.09.2023).
  23. Moore D.R., Campbell N.G. Position Statement and Practice Guidance: Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) [Elektronnyi resurs]. Blackburn: British Society of Audiology (BSA), 2018. 19 p. URL: (дата обращения: 18.12.2023).
  24. Njiokiktjien C. Developmental Dyspraxia and Related Motor Disorders: Neural Substrates and Assessment. Amsterdam: Suyi Publications, 2007. 392 p.
  25. Philip S.S., Dutton G.N. Identifying and characterising cerebral visual impairment in children: a review. Clinical and Experimental Optometry, 2014. Vol. 97, no. 3, pp. 196—208. DOI:10.1111/cxo.12155
  26. Bendixen T., Costain K., Damen S. et al. Revealing hidden potentials — Assessing cognition in individuals with congenital deafblindness [Elektronnyi resurs]. Stockholm: Nordic Welfare Centre, 2020. 164 p. URL: (дата обращения: 18.09.2023).
  27. Roman-Lantzy C. Cortical Visual Impairment: An Approach to Assessment and Intervention. New York: AFB Press, 2007. 211 p.
  28. Spring S. État des lieux sur l'enseignement spécialisé pour les enfants d'âge scolaire handicapés de la vue ou sourdaveugles. Revue suisse de pédagogie spécialisée, 2019, no. 1, pp. 49—55.
  29. CRESAM — Centre national de ressources handicaps rares — surdicécité.Syndrome CHARGE. Journées de rencontres et de formation. Saint-Benoȋt: Centre National de Ressources Handicaps Rares — Surdicécité (CRESAM), 2016. 72 p.
  30. Van Dijk J. An educational curriculum for deaf-blind multihandicapped persons. In Ellis D. (ed.), Sensory impairments in mentally handicapped people. London: CroomHelm, 1986, pp. 374—382.
  31. Watson T., Orel-Bixler D., Haegerstrom-Portnoy G. Longitudinal Quantitative Assessment of Vision Function in Children with Cortical Visual Impairment. Optometry and Vision Science, 2007. Vol. 84, no. 6, pp. 471—480. DOI:10.1097/OPX.0b013e31806dba5f

Information About the Authors

Alina Y. Khokhlova, PhD in Psychology, Associate Professor, Moscow State University of Psychology and Education, Psychologist, the Resource Center Supporting Deafblind and their Family Members “Yaseneva Polyana”, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Cédric Moreau, PhD in Education, Associate Professor, National superior institute of training and research for inclusive education, France, ORCID:, e-mail:



Total: 204
Previous month: 28
Current month: 16


Total: 39
Previous month: 5
Current month: 3