Title: '“A” is not only for Apple: Developing Cognitive Flexibility Through Early Accessible Language Instruction using a Bilingual Approach '
Track: 3-Early Intervention and Beyond
Audience: Primary Audience: Family of a child with hearing loss
Secondary Audience: Early Intervention Provider
Tertiary Audeince: State Education Agency
Keyword(s): Language development, cognitive development, meta-linguistics, ASL, bilingual instruction
Learning Objectives: Identify visual linguistic tasks that will provide higher level cognitive functioning for deaf children at an earlier age.


Parents of deaf children are faced with a myriad of opinions and advice concerning language acquisition and eventual literacy development. While advice is intended to be helpful, it can be provided by people who do not understand the process of language development in children who do not have full biological access to the sound stream. Of even greater concern are the ramifications of waiting for language to develop before beginning tasks that require higher-level cognitive thinking. Often this period of waiting negatively compromises the critical learning time. In this presentation, participants will view how development of ASL can enhance rather than detract from developing spoken English skills. The information provided is based on research, which considered the deaf child’s ability to manipulate some components of ASL (i.e. Handshape, Location, Movement) in a parallel manner to the skills of a hearing child acquiring English. Using data from this research, an instruction plan was developed to provide direct instruction to deaf children. The overall goal of the instruction is to promote the same cognitive flexibility through a series of hierarchal language tasks. This instruction replicates the wealth of meta linguistic activities that hearing children are exposed to in the 0-5 years span. Rather than waiting to “use” language, deaf children participate in activities that develop their cognitive strengths through their most accessible language venue. Visual ASL tasks include identification, production, categorization, segmentation, discrimination, and differentiation of ASL components. The resultant skills enhance the child’s ability to reason with higher functioning from the early years. This foundational cognitive flexibility provides a long-needed instructional gap in the deaf child’s critical language period. Video clips will be presented.
Presentation(s): Not Available
Handouts: Not Available
Kristin DiPerri - Pinellas County Communication Disorders Program
     Credentials: Ed.D. in Developmental Studies: Language, Learning and Culture from Boston University, M.Ed. in Deaf Education, B.A. in Elementary Education.
     Other Affiliations: American Society for Deaf Children Board Member, Independent consultant and literacy assessor to programs throughout the country.
      Kristin Di Perri has an educational doctorate in Developmental Studies: Language, Literacy and Culture from Boston University. For the past 25 years she has been a teacher of the deaf, an instructor in the Masters in Deaf Ed/ Deaf Studies program at Boston University, a consultant for numerous schools and programs for the deaf and until the schools recent closing, the English Literacy Coordinator at the Scranton State School for the Deaf. Ms. Di Perri has published five workbooks for deaf children related to literacy development. She has presented many workshops across the country and abroad.