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sensory loss

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Topics: Blindness
Outline the main causes of sensory loss
There are many factors that can be attributable to causing sensory loss. Varying degrees of vision and hearing loss may occur:
During pregnancy: a woman may come into contact with a virus or disease that affects the growing foetus an inherited condition or syndrome may be passed on to the child a chromosomal disorder may occur during the foetus’ early development injury affecting the foetus whilst in utero

Complications at birth (multiple health and physical conditions may also be present): a child may be born prematurely neurological conditions as a result of a traumatic birth or lack of oxygen

Post natal/childhood: inherited conditions that may present during developmental stages auto immune conditions illness cause by virus or disease injury to the eyes and ears acquired brain injury

Young adult to older age: inherited conditions or syndromes that present later in the person’s life non-hereditary conditions and syndromes auto immune conditions illness cause by virus or disease injury to the eyes and ears acquired brain injury the ageing process
4.2 Explain where additional advice and support can be sourced in relation to sensory loss

Individual care plan
As part of the assessment, the specialist will identify the person's individual needs and requirements which will form a key part of their care plan. The care plan aims to: preserve and maximise any remaining sensory functions that the person has teach them alternative communication methods such as the deafblind manual alphabet (see below) help them to retain as much independence as possible – for example, by recommending they receive training to use a long cane or a guide dog
Identifying a deafblind child's level of hearing and sight at an early age is vital to ensure their health, social and educational needs are met. The child's care and education will form an important part of their overall care strategy from early childhood to adulthood.
Communication systems
There are several communication systems used by deafblind people. Some are described below.
Deafblind manual alphabet
The deafblind manual alphabet is a tactile form of communication. Words are spelt onto the deafblind person's hand, using set positions and movement, such as touching the tip of their thumb with your index finger to spell the letter 'A'.
Block alphabet
The block alphabet is a simple tactile form of communication where a word is spelt out in capital letters that are drawn onto the deafblind person's palm.
Hands-on signing
Hands-on signing is a communication method that uses an adapted version of British Sign Language (BSL). The deafblind person feels what is being signed by placing their hands on top of the signer's hand.
Visual frame signing
Visual frame signing is another communication method that uses an adapted version of BSL. The signs are adapted to be signed in a smaller space to match the position and size of a deafblind person's remaining sight.
Hands-on signing and visual frame signing are often used by people with Usher syndrome after their vision has started to deteriorate, as they usually have BSL as their first language.
Braille and Moon
Braille uses a series of raised dots to represent letters or groups of letters. There are a wide range of Braille publications, as well as specially designed computers that allow you to type and print Braille documents.
Moon is a similar communication system to Braille, but rather than using dots it uses adapted capital letters that are simpler to feel.
Vision aids
In some cases of deafblindess, it may be possible to improve a person's vision using low vision aids, such as glasses, magnifying lenses and task lights. Specially designed items, such as telephones and keyboards, may also be beneficial to someone who is visually impaired.
The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) provides information about specially designed equipment to help with everyday tasks, including writing equipment, kitchen equipment and audio description equipment (for describing television programmes).
Most computers have settings for people with reduced vision. Free software can also be downloaded from the Browsealoud website that reads aloud the text of speech-enabled websites. Most public information sites are speech enabled.
Many libraries stock a selection of large-print books and 'talking books', where the text is read aloud and recorded onto a CD. The RNIB also offer a talking book subscription service, where books can be ordered and delivered directly to your home for a small annual fee.
Hearing aids and implants
A person's hearing can often be improved by using a hearing aid. Hearing aids use a microphone to pick up sound and an amplifier to make it louder.
Various types of hearing aids are available to suit different types of hearing loss. An audiologist will recommend the most suitable type after they have tested your hearing.
Treatable conditions
Some conditions that affect hearing and vision can be treated using medication or surgery. For example: cataracts can often be treated by surgically implanting an artificial lens in the eye; read more about cataract surgery glaucoma can often be treated using eyedrops and laser surgery; read more about treating glaucoma diabetic retinopathy can be treated in the early stages using laser surgery; read more about treating diabetic retinopathy
Accumulated earwax is one of the most common causes of hearing loss and can often be easily treated with ear drops.

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