Original Research

Language and communication development in preschool children with visual impairment: A systematic review

Renata Mosca, Alta Kritzinger, Jeannie van der Linde
South African Journal of Communication Disorders | Vol 62, No 1 | a119 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajcd.v62i1.119 | © 2015 Renata Mosca, Alta Kritzinger, Jeannie van der Linde | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 04 February 2015 | Published: 16 October 2015

About the author(s)

Renata Mosca, Department of Speech Language Pathology and Audiology, University of Pretoria, South Africa, South Africa
Alta Kritzinger, Department of Speech Language Pathology and Audiology, University of Pretoria, South Africa, South Africa
Jeannie van der Linde, Department of Speech Language Pathology and Audiology, University of Pretoria, South Africa, South Africa

Abstract

Background: Language and communication difficulties of young children with visual impairment (VI) are ascribed to intellectual disability, multiple disabilities and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) rather than their sensory impairment. Consequently, the communication difficulties of children with VI may have been underestimated and undertreated. Objectives: This report aims to critically appraise recent peer reviewed literature relating to communication and language development in children with VI.

Method: A systematic search of the literature (2003–2013) was completed using the PRISMA guidelines, and primary and secondary search phrases. Nine publications were reviewed in terms of the strength of recent evidence. Thematic analysis was used to describe the early language and communication characteristics of children with VI.

Results: All the selected articles (n = 9) were from developed countries and participants from seven of the studies had congenital VI. Five of the studies received an evidence level rating of III while four articles were rated as IIb. Two main themes emerged from the studies: early intervention, and multiple disabilities and ASD. Language and communication development is affected by VI, especially in the early stages of development. Speech-language therapists should therefore be included in early intervention for children with VI.

Conclusion: Recent evidence on the early language and communication difficulties of children with VI exists, but children in developing countries with acquired VI appear to not be investigated. The identified language and communication developmental characteristics may assist speech-language therapists to build a knowledge base for participation in early intervention for young children with VI and their families.


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