LAFON 60A THE PRIMARY HEARING (road to language) part 20

quote Prof. J.C. LAFON:

« The
exact timing of the onset of deafness is crucial for the future of
the child.

is already assimilated when deafness arises remains both as a
by an
acoustic excitation, and as some psychophysiological
provided that other sensory pathways allow their continuation. For
instance, the notion of depth – in which the acoustic aspect plays an
important role in one year old-toddlers – is switched to the visual
perception of perspective as part of a residual conditioned
behaviour: the sight both recollects auditory signals and replaces
them. However, perceptions that rely mostly and inherently on
auditory signals – such as articulated speech supported by verbal
speech – are much more fragile.

one can hardly assess the consequences of the timing of the onset of
deafness, as determining this moment is complicated – except in case
of rubella or other obvious diseases. In general, deafness caused by
illnesses during the foetal life are not as severe as those occurring
during the first few months after birth; its consequences on the
neural system structure do not seem too severe. As for a so-called
‘gained memory’, this is just another fantasy about the
mother-foetus relationship, in which everyone tend to project their
own affectivity. I do not think it could be of major importance, on a
specificity point of view, as the memory function that would be
involved in this relationship is very unstable. This is more about
the elaboration of the auditory system rather than a particular
psychological relationship. 

deafness affects a system whose innate reflexes have been in
operation for a while although their specific effects did not have
time to develop, just like elementary reflexes. It is the case of
developed auditory reflexes that did not have time to achieve their
final purpose. Beside anatomical differences found specifically in
those children, based on statistical analysis – e.g.
a decrease in skull circumference – no major differences have been
found on an educational point of view: indeed, numerous other
factors impact the development of a child’s personality and allow
those with less capabilities to make a better use of them.

one year old,

babies display acquired psychophysiological mechanisms, i.e.
the new-born shows a more advanced affective relationship, a better
understanding of its surrounding, a control of the voice and tunes…
All this, provided that the parents manage to maintain these acquired
but fragile mechanisms through the stimulation of other sensory

one year old
although the major speech and verbal language capacities tend to
disappear, so many functions and information have been acquired that
there will always be some left: not necessarily immediately after
they occurred, but rather in the long term. Hearing devices are
efficient on a developed system, with better symbolisation
capacities. Indeed, reports show that group 2 and group 3 severely
death students who pursue their studies beyond A-levels are often
suffering from a deafness that developed during the earliest age,
just as group 1 severe deafness or severe, congenital deafness.

the age of three
deafness and its educational consequences have a different, stronger
impact. Some acquired mechanisms that are perfectly developed tend to
be employed less often, the most elaborated parts of which even tend
to disappear. The social and affective consequences of deafness, such
as a feeling of losing their personalities and a social and affective
isolation play a key role in the issues children are facing at this
stage. Wearing hearing
is usually provided almost immediately (and should be in all cases),
does compensate some of these issues. However, very strong feelings
of unfairness and frustration remain and do require a targeted
management of the child’s emotions – without being overprotective
nor causing a rupture – down to all aspects of everyday life. In
a reported case of severe, bilateral, rubella deafness, closing the
eyes at night was so isolating from the surrounding world – and from
the parents in particular – that the affected child also suffered
from sleeplessness. It took months to overcome this feeling of
complete abandon and isolation.
a few years, considerable speech deterioration and language
regression were observed, all the more so as the onset of deafness
occurred at an early stage and that speech therapy was not initiated

five years old
the major issue is learning
how to read
What remains of oral signals must be associated with written signs as
soon as possible in order to maintain relevant mechanisms of memory
fixation. At that age, the language development is at a sufficiently
advanced stage to ensure that deafness will not jeopardise the
child’s level of abstraction and symbolism. Speech, on the other
hand, requires a thorough management, as the control of the automatic
– and well established – mechanisms involved does rely on hearing.

eight years old
deafness is almost similar to acquired deafness in adults, provided
that the educational management allows the continuation of a regular
curriculum in the same social and affective environments as before


Prof. J.C. LAFON « hearing-impaired children » pp. 106-107.

Jean-Yves MICHEL

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LAFON 60E AUDICION PRIMARIA (camino al lenguaje) parte 20

dim Avr 7 , 2019
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