Vale Dr. Jan van Dijk
We just received word that a giant in the world of deafblindness and renowned pioneer – Dr. Jan Van Dijk of the Netherlands, has passed away. Dr. van Dijk has been an international leader with more than 50 years of experience in the field of deafblindness.
Jan worked first as an educator with children with combined vision and hearing loss at Sint-Michielsgestel Institute beginning in the late 1950’s. In 1962 he started the first school for children with deafblindness, St. Rafael in Sint Michielsgestel, nowadays called Kentalis Rafael.
Jan was one of the world’s leading experts in the education and development of children with deafblindness, tracing the development of his expertise back to the rubella syndrome epidemics in Europe and North America during the early mid 1960’s. Jan was the first professor in deaf pedagogues in the Netherlands (1990). Since that time Dr. van Dijk has been involved in the assessment of children with multiple disabilities, helping families and professionals to provide better services.. His publications on children who are deafblind have attracted world-wide attention. His work has received “The Anne Sullivan Award” and “The Deafblind International’s Distinguished Service Award”.
Dr. van Dijk’s research has focused on many areas, including language and communication, attachment theory and stereotypical behaviour. He expanded his experience as a researcher to assess children with combined sensory impairments and multiple disabilities.
His approach to the education of children who are deafblind has led to the development of the concepts of resonance, attachment, co-active movement and natural communication. His research includes work with individuals with congenital rubella syndrome and those with CHARGE syndrome.
Dr. van Dijk had a wealth of experience assessing children by observing and following their movements, emotions and interest to gain insight into each child’s learning process. His child-guided method of assessing was recognized and used throughout the world.
Dr. Van Dijk was the author of numerous publications in the field of deafblindness and multiple disabilities and up until his passing continued to undertake assessments.
On an emotional level Jan was passionate about the children and families he supported, always approaching his work from the child’s perspective and with sensitivity.
Our condolences to Dr. van Dijk’s family at this sad time, he will always be in our hearts.