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Deafblindness: a 50-year journey My career parallels the evolution of the field of deafblindness. Over many years, as both a practitioner and a researcher, I have been actively engaged in addressing the numerous challenges experienced by people with deafblindness.

I initially worked with children who were deafblind due to Congenital Rubella Syndrome. On the basis of my experience and research data, I developed The van Dijk Curriculum.
A platform to exchange knowledge A person needs nearly a lifetime to develop a true understanding of all the scientific and practical challenges associated with deafblindness. Thanks to good health, job opportunities, and many great friends in this field, I have been fortunate to acquire broad general knowledge in many areas of deafblindness.

Together with my Expert Team, I want to help you find solutions to the challenges you are facing.
Assessment expertise The van Dijk Approach to assessing children or adults with multiple disabilities is unique, but it can be successfully implemented after a relatively short period of training.

Please direct requests for training to me. Materials can be obtained in the Webshop.

Deafblindness basics

There are many factors involved in the cause of deafblindness, like Syndrome as Congenital Rubella Syndrome, Usher Syndrome and Charge Syndrome.

Deafblindness may be associated with challenging behaviours and intellectual disabilities.

Like others I have contributed to improve methods to stimulate the development of communication and motor development.

Gradually over time, a framework of 4 distinct theories supported my work, The van Dijk Approach:

In the Principals of the van Dijk Curriculum I described the fundamentals for emotional, social, and cognitive development.

I explain on the basis of various video clips.

Assessment before Intervention

Parents and educators want to foster a deafblind child’s development and want to know if their child will develop sufficient social and economic skills to live in relative independence.

The first thing I do is clarify the questions like: "Formulation of question(s) to be pursued in the assessment?", " What information is already available?" and "Determining the most favourable situation".

After we have the answers the Actual Assessment can take place, which consist of an observation about the following crucial issues:

At the end I can make my mind up to give advice for the final step of the Assessment: The Intervention.

Webcast Child Guided Assessment

As you can read in the section Actual News, I have visited Perkins School for the Blind in October 2010. Prior to a course and demonstration on my assessment techniques, I was interviewed for a webcast on this topic by a very professional team. I am happy to inform you can view this webcast.

The webcast chapters are:

  1. Introduction
  2. The Domains of Van Dijk Assessment
  3. Behavioral State
  4. Orienting Response
  5. Channel of Learning
  6. Approach/Withdrawal
  7. Memory and Anticipation
  8. Social Interaction and Problem-Solving
  9. The Advantages of Van Dijk Assessment
  10. Insight Gained From Assessment.

Supporting Media

Assessing and educating people with multiple sensory impairments, including deafblindness, requires a great deal of knowledge. At the end of the day, though, there is one big practical question: how do I do it?

I have tried to answer this question by producing CDs, DVDs and a guidebook/manual with double DVDs, that clearly show how I assess a deafblind child, and how I train people to become experts at helping children with challenging behaviours. You will also find many video examples on this website.

For detailed descriptions visit the Webshop.

db cds and dvds

Assessment course

It has been scientifically proven that “The van Dijk Approach to Assessment” brings out the best in a child. It was initially considered a “van Dijk thing” that only I could conduct, based on my experience, knowledge and personality. The research of Nelson, Janssen, Oster & Jayaraman (2010) has convincingly shown, however, that after a rather limited period of training, practitioners are able to implement the assessment with fidelity.

Dr. Nelson and I offer a 2-day course on “Assessment”. Past participants have been extremely satisfied about what they’ve learned.

If your organization is interested in hosting a course like this, please go to Jan as Consultant and read the comments of earlier participants of this course.

Forum closed, despite success

The goal I had in mind when I developed in close cooperation with my web master Pim this website, was to interact with our readers.

We are very satisfied with the statistic results of the first 30 months.

Since we launched this site two years ago (October 1th, 2010) almost 12.000 unique visitors read articles on this site.

They are from 126 different countries from all over the world and they read more than 100.000 pages.

In the 'Forum' part of this site only a few persons had taken the opportunity to raise questions to be discussed. We don’t know why this is, but we feel forced to close it, also because of increasing spam.

Every Child has Potential - Child-guided Strategies for Assessing Children - the van Dijk Framework

What we have noticed is that many people have downloaded the articles we have included on our website. Apparently there is an interest in my work. I have only published a small part of my writings on the website and some of them are outdated. In the recent years I have written several articles which reflect new ideas which I have developed on the assessment and intervention of Deafblind children.

It seems that there is an overall interest in my Assessment techniques. An important issue is the validity and reliability of the “Van Dijk Approach”. This has been established by Nelson et al in 2010. A year before the American Printing House has published the Manual : Child Guided Strategies: The van Dijk Approach to Assessment.

In order to make our German speaking colleagues aware of the Van Dijk Assessment protocol the Handbook of Augmentative Communication (Handbuch der Unterstützten Kommunikation") has requested Prof. Dr. Catherine Nelson and myself to discuss the framework of our approach.

We present you this article in the English version: "Every Child has Potential: "Child-guided Strategies for Assessing Children using the van Dijk Framework", by Prof. Dr. Catherine Nelson and Dr. J. van Dijk.

Enjoy reading it.

Helen Keller

Hellen Keller speaking with the help of Anne Sullivan

Helen Keller

Book Van Dijk Approach

Book Van Dijk Approach

People who watch me assess a child with multiple disabilities often wonder about the structure of my approach. They know I try to “follow the child,” but the direction this process takes is sometimes unclear.

A guidebook/manual with double DVDs has recently been published, called Child-guided Strategies: The Van Dijk Approach to Assessment For Understanding Children and Youth with Sensory Impairments and Multiple Disabilities (2010).

The assessment’s eight domains are well described, and clear suggestions are given for writing an assessment summary and designing a child’s Individual Educational Plan (IEP). One of the accompanying DVDs demonstrates the assessments of 3 children with multiple impairments.