In March a new three-year project began looking at Executive Function abilities in deaf children at the Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre (DCAL) at University College London.
Executive Function is a broad term which covers many cognitive processes such as planning, working memory, attention, problem-solving and many more. Children use Executive Functions in the classroom every day at school in many ways, for example:
Children with Executive Function problems may find it hard to switch from one lesson to the next, may not be able to manage their time on different tasks and may take longer than other children. They may find it difficult to concentrate and be disruptive. They tend to forget information that is learnt and they lack motivation to do tasks or work on their own.
Executive Function develops over childhood, and problems with Executive Function can be seen at any age but they become more noticeable during the school years. Executive Functions are not only important for school success, they also lead to good behaviour and emotional wellbeing and they have important effects on adult life. Research has demonstrated that adults with Executive Function difficulties have more mental health problems, social problems and higher levels of criminal activity and unemployment.
Children with language impairments often perform poorly on Executive Function tasks, possibly because they have more difficulty using language to help them when planning and problem solving. As many deaf children experience language delay it is possible that they may have difficulty with Executive Function tasks.
The aim of this project is to look at the relationship between language and Executive Function skills in deaf children. Many tasks of Executive Function are English or sound based, which would put deaf children at a disadvantage. We are using a series of visual tasks with no English or language in them, which are suitable for assessing deaf children.
We are looking at these groups of children so we can compare different language backgrounds and skills and see how they relate to Executive Function skills.
We would like to follow up a small group of children approximately one or two years later with a training study and assessments to see how their language and Executive Function skills have developed.
All studies are approved for ethics and safety. Children’s details will be kept confidential.
We do hope you will support this exciting new research project and encourage parents and children to take part.