Joyce Sewell-Rutter, Stephanie Dawson,

thanks to support from Sandra Driver, Elizabeth Lydia


BATOD Foundation, Big Lottery Fund, Ewing Foundation, Burwood Park Foundation

Abstract / Introduction

This MESHGuide is for all those looking for, and needing, information on children and young people with a diagnosis of autism and deafness.  Currently (2017), the limited information that exists is spread across many platforms.  This MESHGuide collects together, in one place, a range of informative documents and useful links for professionals and families.

Christina Borders (DEI 2016) suggests that two language-impacting disabilities increase the need for strong evidence-based practices but goes on to report ‘a dearth of available resources and direction for teachers and professionals supporting comorbid deafness and ASD’.  It is hoped that the limited research and evidence-based practice currently available and included in this MESHGuide will result in the triggering of further research into this important area.

The population of students with complex needs has doubled since 2004 (Anne Pinney 2017).  This includes ‘children with complex forms of Autism [who] have more than doubled since 2004, to 57,615.’ Early diagnosis of deafness and Autism remains a challenge because both present in similar ways. Teachers working with these students are not able to turn to a breadth of existing practice – this MESHGuide could help.  In turn their experience could add to the body of evidence-based practice.

Given the small cohort and the individuality of each child/young person the way forward might be through Single Case Design (SCD) research (Wendel et al 2015) as is also suggested in Borders article.

Throughout the MESHGuide the term ‘deafness’ covers all types and levels of hearing impairment in children and young people (0-25 years).

Strength of Evidence

There is established practice and expertise amongst the profession… With low incidence disabilities and presenting such individual differences, it is challenging to  find sufficient numbers for large scale research.  This MESHGuide values knowledge and practice from BATOD members and others involved in deaf education.    Due to the nature of autism with a spectrum of presentations, the challenge is to produce large scale studies as it is difficult to draw together enough subjects.  Using MESHGuides to collect together case studies and solutions it is hoped to extend the knowledge base on the topic of autism and deafness.

Transferability across countries and settings

Whilst the content here is focused on practice in England it is hoped it may be of use generically and help to raise awareness, attracting others to contribute their own research and evidence-based practice.


Editor’s comments

Deafness and Hearing Impairment affect children’s access to education all over the world.  Multiple conditions result in very small groups of CYP to study and complete statistically meaningful research studies.

We welcome further case studies.  Please send these to Please also include areas you would like researched.

Date of publication
13 Mar 2018
Date of revision
13 Mar 2020
Online community link

There are various online forums for Teachers of the Deaf and parents of deaf children, in the UK and other parts of the world.  BATOD manages an email forum.

You are welcome to join the online community here to keep in touch.

To keep in touch with other developments, please register to join the MESHConnect general online community.