Course curriculum

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    Course content

    • PowerPoint

    • Language Deprivation Syndrome

Course info

Course description: “Language deprivation syndrome” (LDS) is the name that American Deaf psychiatrist Sanjay Gulati has given to a recognizable constellation of social, emotional, intellectual and other consequences for deaf people when they grow up without adequate access to either spoken or signed communication. According to Gulati, structurally speaking, LDS is aberrant neurodevelopment. Functionally, it is an intellectual disability. The presence of this constellation of issues has long been noted in the Deaf mental health and rehabilitation literature, and several names for this condition have been offered dating back decades. Clinical experience is that LDS is a highly common form of co-morbidity seen, to varying degrees, in deaf persons served in mental health settings. It is a condition that confounds both assessment and treatment.

In this presentation, our current understanding of LDS will be discussed along with a history of attempts to understand define this condition. The presenter will discuss how awareness of LDS developed on the Deaf psychiatric unit he administered for 17 years. He will also discuss varying causes for language deprivation and dysfluency in deaf people, compare these with conditions that cause dysfluency in hearing people, review current socio-historical developments impacting language development in deaf children, and then some of the implications of LDS for service provision, including interpreting, with deaf people.


10 minutes: How the presenter discovered the topic of Language Deprivation Syndrome (LDS)

10 minutes: Westborough State Hospital Experience and Research related to LDS

10 minutes: Other research: The syndrome in search of a name

10 minutes: Sanjay Gulati’s research and conceptualization of LDS

20 minutes: Causes of language dysfluency in deaf and hearing people

10 minutes: Socio-historical changes impacting language development of deaf children

10 minutes: Cognitive, psychosocial and behavioral implications of LDS

10 minutes: Research questions: what we don’t yet know

Learner outcomes:

Participants will be able to:

  1. State the history and current conceptualization of the concept of “language deprivation syndrome” (LDS) as well as the relevant research questions to help us further clarify our understanding of this condition

  2. Explain diverse causes of language dysfunction in some hearing and deaf people

  3. Explain the cognitive, psychosocial and behavioral implications of severe language deprivation


Neil Glickman

Neil S. Glickman, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist in Massachusetts, United States. He was co-founder of the Mental Health Unit for Deaf Persons, a Deaf psychiatric inpatient unit at Westborough State Hospital in Massachusetts, where he worked for 17 years, 14 as unit psychologist and director. He is the author of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Deaf and Hearing persons with Language and Learning Challenges (Routledge, 2009), and Preparing Deaf and Hearing Persons with Language and Learning Challenges for CBT: A Pre-Therapy Workbook (Routledge, 2017). He is also editor of Deaf Mental Health Care (Routledge, 2013), and co-editor (with Michael Harvey) of Culturally Affirmative Psychotherapy with Deaf Persons (Lawrence Erlbaum, 1996), and (with Sanjay Gulati) of Mental Health Care of Deaf Persons: A Culturally Affirmative Approach (Lawrence Erlbaum, 2003), and (with Wyatte Hall) of Language Deprivation and Deaf Mental Health (Routledge, 2019.) Neil has worked in numerous Deaf and hearing mental health programs and capacities over a 4-decade career in Deaf mental health. He is on the faculty of the University of Massachusetts Medical School and for 15 years taught graduate level classes in the Institute for Social and Rehabilitative Services at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts. He served as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education from 2011 to 2019. Neil has consulted and presented widely to Deaf schools and mental health programs in the United States and parts of Europe. He currently has a private psychotherapy and consultation practice in Natick, Massachusetts.

Speaker disclosures

Financial disclosure: The presenter receives royalties on any books sold and will be referencing some of his books in the presentation.

Nonfinancial disclosure: The presenter has a point of view regarding language development (the importance of sign language exposure) with deaf children that he believes is empirically based but also based on a lot of personal and professional experience, much of which he will be citing.