Perceptual development in blind children
Menaker, Shirley Lasch
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The purpose of this study was to investigate tue effects of prolonged deficit in one sense modality (vision) on the development of perception in another sense modality (tactile-kinesthesis). Specifically, the absence of vision from early in life was hypothesized as having a retarding effect on the development of perception in the tactile-kinesthetic sense. A total of 244 children served as the subjects for the study: 144 children with normal vision and 100 congenitally blind children. They ranged in age from five through sixteen years. The two groups were matched for chronological age and verbal IQ. In order to investigate the hypothesis of developmental retardation, it was decided to look at performance in a tactile-kinesthetic task in which there were systematic changes w1th age. Part of the study was tnus concerned with establishing norms for such a task. Two types of tactile-kinesthetic tasks were individually administered to all subjects: a test of kinesthetic after-effect; and the size-weight illusion, administered in three different forms. In both sighted and congenitally blind subjects, significant differences with age were found in two out of the three forms of the size-weight illusion (the two measures involving the simultaneous use of both hands). In the third form (involving the use of only one hand), significant differences with age were found in the blind population and, while the differences with age in the sighted population were not significant, there was a graphic indication that systematic changes with age were taking place similar to those found in the other two forms of the illusion. [TRUNCATED]
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