Read Emotional Intelligence: The Implications for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students text version

Emotional Intelligence: The Implications for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students

Asiah Mason, Ph.D.

Gallaudet University Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center

Development of EI

Brain development Attachment Temperament Personality Family environment Interactions with environment


The emotional bond that develops between the infant and caregivers during the first year of life.

Secure - when caregivers are consistently warm and responsive to the infant's needs. Insecure - when caregivers are neglectful, inconsistent, or insensitive to infant's moods or behaviors.


Long-term effects

Prosocial Empathic More socially competent Fewer behavior problems Better in school Better peer relationships


Infant cries >> mother touches & caresses >> talks to the child->picks up the child. Infant stops fussing >> look at mother >> mother smiling or speaking->infant respond vocally.


Hearing newborn exposed to continuous auditory information. Recognize mother's voice early. Becomes familiar with noises. Vision and voice enter reciprocally and constantly surrounding the infants. When mother leaves physically >> can still hear.


These interplay between infant and mother leads to development of:

Social attachments Awareness of self Ability to interpret cues from others through social referencing Regulation of one's own emotional responses.

Attachment - deaf

If deafness is not diagnosed

Parents unknowing deprive the infant of their presence every time they exit the infant's visual field.

More than 90 % of people who are deaf have hearing parents.

Attachment - deaf

Deaf infants depend on tactile sensations, direct contact, and visual input for communication. Incapable of foreseeing an arrival via noise, the sound of approaching steps, or a voice calling from the other room.

Attachment - deaf

If lack of hearing is not compensated for by visual and tactile stimulation on an ongoing basis = sense of isolation.

Communication & Attachment

Deaf preschoolers with poor communications skills were often insecurely attached. Deaf children with deaf parents develop attachment patterns similar to those observed in hearing children with hearing parents (meaningful communication from birth). Deafness does not contribute directly to insecure attachment.


Emotional self-regulation refers to the strategies we use to adjust our emotional state to a comfortable level of intensity so we can accomplish our goals.

Example: if one drinks a cup of coffee to wake up in the morning, reminds oneself that an anxietyprovoking event would be over soon, or decides not to see a scary horror film.


In the early months of life, infants have only a limited capacity to regulate their emotional states. They depend on the soothing interventions of caregivers: lifting the distressed baby to the shoulder, rocking, and talking softly.


Between two and four months, caregivers start to build on this capacity through engaging in verbal and face-toface play and verbally encouraging attention to objects Parents adjust the pace and the baby's tolerance for stimulation increases.

Self-regulation - deaf

In deaf infants, these self-regulatory behaviors are reinforced when caregivers use facial and body expressions that the infants can imitate.

Self-regulation - deaf

Deaf mothers tend to be highly active and animated with their infants.

This tends to elicit positive responses from the infants. When parents of deaf infants omit the use of eye contact or facial expressions, deaf infants are more likely to respond with protest (setting up negative interaction patterns).

Self-regulation - deaf

Without amplification that conveys speech sounds, the ability to learn conversational skills like hearing infants is not reinforced. Visual stimuli, such as exaggerated facial expressions and visual language, as well as increased use of tactile contact and auditory amplification, will facilitate interactive communication and set the foundation for language development.

Emotional Expression

As caregivers help infants regulate their emotional states, they also provide lessons in socially approved ways of expressing feelings. Parents do verbal labels for their inner experiences. Parents provide vocabulary for talking about feelings (happy, love, surprised, scary, yucky, mad, etc).

Emotional Expression deaf

How does this process occur when the infant is deaf and the primary caregiver is hearing, before establishing a shared and effective system of communication? What is the long term effect of having missed so many of these early opportunities for:

learning to express one's feeling through language? making one's needs known to others through spoken communication? receiving the linguistic feedback that validates one's emotional responses?

Emotional Expression deaf

When a deaf child has hearing parents, creating a shared meaning and relatedness through language is a greater challenge. The absence of an available symbolic system in which to share personal knowledge or create a linguistic construct for an affective or emotional inner experience

the possibility of developmental arrest or delay.

Emotional Expression

Without words, without signs, without gesture or communicative silence, there is no ability to express experiences, thoughts, or feelings.

Social & Emotional Development

Healthy social-emotional development is a critical foundation for life success. Competencies that are generally accepted as defining healthy socialemotional development area also applicable to helping individuals realize their academic and vocational potential.

Social-Emotional deaf

Unfortunately, as a group, deaf children and adolescents demonstrate reduced mastery in many of these areas of competence and thus are at risk for a number of adverse outcomes.

Low academic achievement, underemployment, etc.

Social & Emotional

However, not all deaf children develop adjustment problems. The impact of deafness on the child's overall development is influenced by several factors:

Quality of family environment, Parental adaptation to deafness Family coping Nature of school Community resources Child characteristics

Social & Emotional deaf

Deaf children are often delayed in language development,

more impulsivity, poorer emotional regulation, impoverished vocabulary of emotion language.

Social & Emotional

Thus, for some deaf children, as well as other individuals who have experienced delays in language or who have been deprived of sufficient language-mediated experience,

--the inability to spontaneously mediate experience with linguistic symbols and label aspects of inner emotional states

--may be one important factor leading to serious gaps in social-emotional development.


Deficits in motivation and initiative,

may be due to hearing parents and teachers being highly directive and not providing deaf children with rich opportunities for as king independent action and responsibility.

Family and EI

Having emotionally intelligent parents is itself of enormous benefit to a child (Goleman, 1995). Couples who were more emotionally competent in the marriage were also the most effective in helping their children with their emotional ups and downs.

Family System

Stress of the child's hearing loss negatively affects family functioning and consequently the development of the child. Protective factors:

Parental attitudes Beliefs Attributions Internal and external family resources Quality of social support

Family System

For families with deaf infants, a unique source of stress stems from conflicting professional opinions regarding different intervention and communication options. These factors effects parent's abilities to adapt successfully to stressors facilitating effectiveness and hence child outcomes.

Incidental Learning

Incidental learning is the process by which information is learned by virtue of passive exposure to events witnessed or overheard. The meaning of such information is not directly taught nor necessarily intended for instruction: yet important information and nuances for behavior or beliefs are transmitted and absorbed.

Incidental Learning

Understanding ourselves, our culture, rules for how people and families communicate and so forth are strongly influenced by incidental learning.

Incidental Learning deaf

Because the constant use of sign language by hearing people is rare and deaf children cannot overhear spoken conversations, there are many types of messages that are not readily available to deaf children

Example: arguments, phone calls with relatives, praise or discipline directed toward another child, television in the background, etc.

Incidental Learning deaf

For deaf children, all communications must be directed specifically to them, and they in turn must also pay close attention.

This can be a tiring process Interferes with ongoing activities.

Adolescent Years

Intimate attachments to both parents and peers as a feeling of belonging to a social network are important in healthy identity development in adolescence. Overprotection by parents create further impediment to social independence.

Adolescent Years deaf

Important for deaf adolescent to feel connected with other deaf peers or adults through school programs, recreational programs or other organized activities.


Person-environment interactions

The continuous interplay between individual child characteristics and environmental factors, including setting and family variables, is crucial to demystifying and predicting the deaf child's development of emotional intelligence.



Early language experience: Effective communication - signed, spoken, cued or a combination - is vital to the quality of family life and to the child's emotional adjustment, language development, and future academic achievement. Deaf children most likely to be the most competent in all domains of childhood endeavor are those who actively participate in linguistic interactions with their parents from an early age.


Diversity of experience


It is through the active exploration of the environment and through experience with people, things, and language that children acquire knowledge, including learning to learn.

Conclusion: 3

Social interaction

Beyond the biological and cognitive functions of social interaction, children use such relationships to develop secure bases for exploration and to identify with others who are like them; they use others for instrumental and emotional support. Children who are denied such opportunities early in life because of child-related, familial, or societal factors cannot fully benefit from other aspects of experience.



Early comprehensive intervention shows positive effects for social, emotional and cognitive development.

"Deafness is not a destiny"

"It is the consequent development of positive, supportive social relationships that predict the deaf child's future emotional intelligence and cognitive strength over their lifespan."

Contact information

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Emotional Intelligence: The Implications for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students

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