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Validation of an attachment tool for use with deaf children

By Joanna Downes


There has been substantial research evidence on the role of attachment theory in hearing but not deaf children, whose families often receive inconsistent interventions, with adverse impact on the parent-child attachment. Such research is impeded by the lack of appropriate attachment measures. The aim of this study was to adapt such an attachment measure, and to evaluate its application with deaf children. The Manchester Child Attachment Story Task (MCAST) was initially administered to four deaf children, where an alternative transcript of the vignettes and interpreter protocol had to be developed. The researcher subsequently established a new pictorial method, the Deaf Child Attachment Story Task (DCAST), with supplementary administration, coding, and communication procedures. This was applied with 18 deaf children aged 3-9 years, recruited from eight Local Educational Authorities. The mental age obtained from the non-verbal scale of the Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children was between 2.50 to 12.5 years. The Language Proficiency Profile (LPP) was also completed, with equivalent scores of 1-7 years. Assigned ratings of attachment (secure: 50% vs. insecure: 50%) were different to norms obtained for the general population, but partially supported previous studies in deaf children and attachment. A questionnaire (QoFL) and a semi-structured interview collected data to explore the context for the development of the child‟s attachment. Significant associations for secure attachment were identified for ten variables, including family life not being affected by communication, the child being confident and outgoing, and the child having both deaf and hearing friends. This provides relative validation of the new measure. These associations had partial support from themes identified in transcripts, including attitudes and difficulties with communication, and child behavioural problems. The findings can contribute to a better understanding of deaf children‟s attachment strategies. The adapted attachment measure has implications for future research and clinical practice with deaf children

Publisher: University of Leicester
Year: 2009
OAI identifier:

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