Subject Area

Counseling, Psychology, Rehabilitation Counseling, Social Work


In this paper, the medical, social and historical forces resulting in much smaller numbers of deaf children having quality access to natural sign languages are presented. These forces mean that people who work in the clinical specialty of Deaf mental health are seeing more clients with atypical or dysfluent sign language. An historical overview of the development of this clinical specialty is outlined, followed by a discussion of how the problem of language deprivation is a “game changer” for the work of mental health clinicians, interpreters, communication assessors, and administrators of Deaf mental health services. Special attention is given to the proposed new condition called language deprivation syndrome (LDS). Knowledge about LDS is presented along with current research questions. Some innovative clinical, interpreting, communication assessment, and administrative practices relevant to work with deaf people with language deprivation are presented.