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Language in Deaf schizophrenia: implications on case management and assessment

Research output: Contribution to conference - Without ISBN/ISSN Conference paper

Published
Publication date18/09/2014
Original languageEnglish
Event6th World Congress on Mental Health and Deafness - Queen's University, Belfast, United Kingdom
Duration: 16/09/201419/09/2014

Conference

Conference6th World Congress on Mental Health and Deafness
CountryUnited Kingdom
CityBelfast
Period16/09/1419/09/14

Abstract

Over the last 20 years there has been an explosion in the understanding of sign linguistics, with research exploring the effects of absence of audition on the development, comprehension and production of language. Language in Deaf schizophrenia, however, remains an under researched area. In the first group study of this type (Chatzidamianos, 2013) we found that Deaf people with schizophrenia are able to comprehend BSL nouns and phonological constructs to comparable degrees with their Deaf healthy counterparts. However, they did show notable difficulty in producing handshapes in classifier constructions, which often resulted in significantly impairing language production at the level of semantics. We also found that compared to their healthy counterparts, Deaf people with schizophrenia were motorically able to produce sign, whilst presenting compromised motor ability for causal actions.

While Crow (1997) argued that schizophrenia is “the price that homo sapiens pay for language”, Harsham (1984) described a case where a misinterpreted word during an standard medical assessment ended up costing $71 million. Given the communication barriers faced by Deaf individuals and the evidence indicating that language difficulties can interfere with psychiatric diagnosis and management (du Feu and Chovaz, 2014), the findings could have clinical implications on the case management and clinical assessment of Deaf people with schizophrenia.

Influenced by Denmark’s (1994) seminal work on mental health and Deafness, this presentation aims to discuss the study results in a clinical context with the view to inform clinical practice in psychiatric/psychological settings and to offer evidence based clinical recommendations.