Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

Prevalence of Socioemotional Problems in Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children in Germany

Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

Prevalence of Socioemotional Problems in Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children in Germany

Article excerpt

THE GERMAN VERSION of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) was used in a study to examine its usefulness in diagnosing socioemotional problems of deaf and hard of hearing children. The SDQ parent version was completed by 213 mothers and 213 fathers. The factor structure and reliability were tested, and the prevalence rate of socioemotional problems determined and compared to the German standardization sample. The statistical data were uniformly satisfactory; thus, the SDQ can serve as a valid yet economical screening procedure to identify endangered children at an early age, and to refer them to more exact diagnosis and subsequent advice and therapy. This is very important, as the prevalence of socioemotional problems in the sample of deaf and hard of hearing children was clearly greater for almost all scores, a result that is nearly identical with findings from many other recent studies.

The Issues

The likely psychosocial consequences of a profound hearing impairment during infancy have been known for a long time. As Greenberg and Kusche (1998) have observed,

Although deaf persons vary widely in their personalities, interests, and mental health, many deaf children (and adults) share developmental experiences that are less than optimal, including early and continued communicative deprivation, difficulties in their families of origin, less than adequate educational experiences, and continuing social stigma and prejudice. As a result, a significant portion of deaf persons show developmental misintegration of language, cognition, and affect. (p. 49)

In recent years, numerous studies have been devoted to this subject in many different countries (e.g., the United States, the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Finland). There are two reasons for the present study, which focuses on Germany:

1. The lack of up-to-date information on the psychosocial situation of deaf and hard of hearing children in German-speaking countries. The most recent data published on the subject are to be found in three studies done in the 1970s and 1980s: Dierig (1980), Kammerer (1988), and Schnell (1989). The aim of the present study is to present the latest figures and relate them to the context of findings from other current studies.

2. In the majority of existing studies, the Child Behavior Checklist is used to record socioemotional problems (van Eldik, 2005; van Eldik, Trefifers, Veerman, & Verhulst, 2004). In practice, this tried and tested procedure is problematic because of its rather large size (it comprises 101 items). The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ; Goodman, 1997) is a procedure uhat has been around for some years now and permits clinicians and others to document socioemotional problems much more economically taking a sounding screening. The intention in the present study was to check how well this procedure works when used with deaf and hard of hearing children,

The Prevalence of Socioemotional Problems in Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children

The prevalence data available on deaf and hard of hearing children show that older studies estimate the frequency of socioemotional problems as being between 8% and 22% (for a review, see Meadow, 1980). Only the results of Kolvin and colleagues (1979) deviate greatly from this, showing a prevalence rate of 54%. One study that is widely respected and therefore quoted particularly frequently is that of Freeman, Malkin, and Hastings (1975). This representative study was conducted on almost all the deaf and hard of hearing children between the ages of 5 and 15 years in the Vancouver, Canada, region (N = 120). The results showed that 22.6% of the children involved had abnormal behavior patterns requiring intervention and that the behavior of 6.1% of the children was abnormal to the extreme. What makes this study so particularly remarkable is that it was not just representative, it was also highly ambitious from a methodological standpoint (i. …

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