Pennsylvania Department of Education

Session Dates

Tuesday April 10th, 2018 4:00PM — 5:00PM

Deaf-Blindness and Autism Spectrum Disorders Look Alike: Bridging Best Practices and Interventions

The similarities in the ways that autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and deaf-blindness present in children have been recognized for a long time, as have diagnostic strategies for differentiating between autism and deaf-blindness. Families and educators serving children with deaf-blindness increasingly hear other educators, service providers or medical specialists say that these children seem to act autistic or to have “autistic-like behaviors.” While it is possible for children to be both deaf-blind and be diagnosed with autism, it is much more likely that a child who is deaf-blind simply appears similar to a child with autism and, conversely, the child with autism might appear to have certain features consistent with deaf-blindness.

The purpose of this training is to look closely at the key features of ASD and deaf-blindness and consider why children who are deaf-blind might, in some cases, share many of the same features associated with ASD and how vision and hearing loss and other sensory impairments can explain these “autistic-like” features.

We will also look closely at current evidence-based practices related to instruction of learners with ASD and compare those practices to highly recognized field-based best practices related to deaf-blind education. This presentation will outline the unique educational needs of learners with deaf-blindness and offer suggestions for how to match and tailor some evidence-based ASD practices with deaf-blind practices when planning instruction and support for those learners. Particular attention will be paid to the areas appropriate: access to curriculum and social relationships, communication skill development, concept development, and self-determination skills.


Participants will be able to:

  1. Describe unique features of Deafblindness
  2. Identify “autistic like behaviors” in students with deaf-blindness
  3. Explain the difference between sensory impairments and ASD
  4. Compare practices in education for students who are deafblind with Autism Spectrum Disorder practices as they apply to student with deafblindness

Target Audience

Teachers of the Visually Impaired, Teachers of the Deaf or Hard of Hearing, Multiple Disability Support (MDS), Orientation and Mobility Therapists

Individuals attending this course must arrive on time and stay the duration of the course in order to receive Act 48 Professional Education hours. Requests for exceptions are to be brought to the attention of the individual´s Superintendent or IU Director prior to the course.

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Tom Wolf, Governor


  • Webinar

Event Type

  • Webinar

Credit Type

  • Act 48 (2 hours)
  • Hours of Instructional Time (2 hours)

Registration Contact

Lorraine Byer,, 610-878-7210

Content Contact

Sue Ann Houser,, 800-441-3215 x 7243

Topics Covered



  • Julie Maier, MA