What is linguistic deprivation and why is it so dangerous? Explanation in Polish Sign Language (PJM).
Linguistic Deprivation is a delay in language development that occurs when a child is not provided with sufficient exposure to language during the first few years of their life. The early years of life are often referred to as a critical or sensitive period. Children who have limited access to language — spoken or sign language — may not develop the necessary skills for effective language acquisition, leading to further developmental and educational issues. During this time, we do not consciously learn languages as we do when learning a foreign language in adulthood, but rather absorb them naturally through exposure to language and communication with other users of that language. Linguistic deprivation is particularly prevalent among deaf children raised in non-signing environments.
Linguistic deprivation is not just a language or educational issue. Limited access to language can lead to behavioral and mental health problems, as the child is unable to express desires or needs. The inability to communicate with the environment leads to isolation and loneliness. Linguistic deprivation affects neurological development. The brain receives too few stimuli — and the potential and capacities of the brain are underutilized. It’s worth emphasizing that the cause of these problems is not hearing impairment, but an environment for deaf children that does not cater to their needs.
Unfortunately, specialists – doctors, speech therapists, teachers, psychologists – who perpetuate myths about the alleged negative impact of sign language on a child’s development and encourage parents to forcefully avoid signing in favor of speaking to the child can still be encountered. This is very important – the results of scientific research using neuroimaging leave no doubt: learning sign language does not hinder the acquisition of language competence in spoken languages, sign language ‘does not impoverish’ the mind, and does not lead to cognitive limitations or educational problems. Quite the opposite! There is also no contradiction in simultaneously acquiring sign language and spoken language.
That’s all for today, see you in the next episode!