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  • Understanding Language Deprivation and Its Role in Deaf Mental Health
  • Claire Ryan (bio) and Paige Johnson (bio)
Language Deprivation and Deaf Mental Health. Neil S. Glickman and Wyatte C. Hall, eds. Routledge 2019. 292 pp. $41.95 (paperback).

Those who work with the deaf population in clinical settings understand the rising concerns about language deprivation among deaf children. While few documented cases of language deprivation are found in the general population, language deprivation has become an increasingly common occurrence in deaf children. The widespread experience of language deprivation among deaf individuals warrants targeted prevention and intervention that address the unique cognitive, psychosocial, behavioral, rehabilitative, and educational needs of this population. Language Deprivation and Deaf Mental Health, edited by Neil Glickman and Wyatte Hall, is a far-reaching resource that provides ample applicable strategies across clinical contexts where unique circumstances emerge when clinicians are working with language-deprived persons.

The volume's authors tackle the daunting topic of language deprivation syndrome (LDS), a socially originated condition that occurs when deaf children are not afforded full access to a language-rich environment during the critical period of language acquisition. Deprived of language during their early childhood years, those who experience LDS face lifelong detrimental consequences across all areas of development and functioning, including but not limited to language dysfluency, fund of knowledge deficits, and related negative outcomes in cognition, learning, mental health, and physical health. This book is groundbreaking for two compelling reasons: first, because of its detailed yet straightforward description of the language deprivation epidemic; and second, because of its vast array of action-oriented strategies and steps that professionals, as frontline responders, can adopt to counteract the growing threat of language deprivation in deaf individuals.

Throughout this text, readers get to know the blossoming clinical specialty that is deaf mental health. The book's content provides in-depth and accessible explanations of how language is closely tied to psychological functioning and mental health for deaf persons with language deprivation. This book promises to take a critical look at how specific problems associated with LDS affect the deaf population. These include how language deprivation happens despite the best intentions of medical providers, parents, and interventionists; how varying [End Page 519] degrees of language deprivation manifest across persons; and understanding the lifelong implications for deaf individuals with LDS. The authors deliver on this promise in a way that is digestible, critical, and holistic, even for readers who are new to LDS as a general phenomenon or for those unfamiliar with its manifestations within deaf populations. In chapter 1, Dr. Sanjay Gulati untangles the complex bio-psycho-social domino effect that often results from LDS. Building on Dr. Gulati's introduction, the volume's remaining authors provide detailed descriptions of what language deprivation looks like in observable terms. Each chapter contains valuable case examples to aid readers in reaching a deeper level of comprehension of the topics at hand. In doing so, the authors provide readers with a clear understanding of what might otherwise be an abstract concept.

Appropriately for a clinical text for the field of deaf mental health, assessment practices are also an area of focus. The book is successful in particular with regard to the compounding yet frequently overlooked factors of psychological testing of language-deprived persons. The authors carefully examine some commonly used cognitive, communication, and language assessment batteries that diagnose LDS; importantly, they also describe administration considerations and modifications for use with deaf persons. Given that the evidence base for assessment "best practice" with deaf persons is severely lacking, the authors capitalize on various research findings, combined with recommendations informed by clinical experience, to address the unique needs of this historically overlooked population.

This book takes readers on a journey through the many undocumented corners of the field of deaf mental health. Historically, practitioners who deliver psychological interventions to this population have relied on repressive approaches such as limiting their services to token economies and prescribing unnecessary medication. Already deprived of their right to language, deaf individuals are further deprived of their autonomy by practitioners' overreliance on these behavior-stabilizing approaches. These practitioners often deem any form of psychosocial therapy improbable, too difficult, or too time-consuming. Furthermore...


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pp. 519-524
Launched on MUSE
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