2022 HELIX In-Person Experience: High Expectations for Students with Low Incidence Disabilities

05. Why Deaf-Blindness and Autism Spectrum Disorders Look So Much Alike

The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel Google Maps

Session Dates

Monday November 14, 2022 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM - The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel


The similarities in the ways that autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and deafblindness present in children have been recognized for a long time, as have diagnostic strategies for differentiating between autism and deafness. Families and educators serving children with deafblindness 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 deafblind and be diagnosed with autism, it is much more likely that a child who is deafblind simply appears similar to a child with autism and, conversely, the child with autism might appear to have certain features consistent with deafblindness. The purpose of this training is to look closely at the key features of ASD and deafblindness and consider why children who are deafblind 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.

Participants will be able to:

  • Describe the difference between a sensory processing difference and sensory loss or impairment.
  • Identify potential benefits and concerns related to dual diagnosis of deafblindness and autism.
  • Discuss how certain behaviors demonstrated by an individual may be a response to missing, reduced, or distorted sensory information rather than autism.

Target Audience

Teachers, administrators, speech language pathologists, related service providers, consultants, training and consulting staff, paraprofessionals, family members Reasonable efforts will be made to accommodate individuals who have special needs as addressed by the Americans with Disabilities Act and who need assistance at this event. Contact: Annette Bauerlein, at 810-878-7211, or abauerlein@pattankop.net.

Event Info

Event Type:


Credit Type:

Act 48 Clock Hour
Hours of Instructional Time
No credit


Julie Maier MA

Event Contact:

Content Contact:

Kristin Starosta