The Importance of Early Intervention

“Early intervention” is a term that medical and other professionals use to describe the identification and treatment of developmental or physical challenges in children from birth until three years of age.

When it comes to an infant or child who is deaf or hard of hearing, early intervention is extremely important because the human brain is programmed to learn language during the first six years of life – with the first three-and-a-half years being the most critical. Without intervention, it becomes increasingly difficult to acquire language as a child grows older.

The earlier a child’s speech and language problems are identified and treated, the less likely it is that problems will persist or worsen. Early speech and language intervention can help children be more successful with reading, writing, schoolwork and interpersonal relationships. In fact, infants and young children whose hearing loss is detected early and who receive appropriate and timely intervention have an excellent chance to develop these important life skills alongside their hearing peers.

How can I ensure my child is identified/diagnosed as soon as possible?

As a result of Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) legislation enacted in 2000, most hospitals today screen for hearing loss before a newborn is discharged from the hospital. The initial exam is referred to as a “screening” because the testing is not as involved as a comprehensive hearing examination and so, the results are not definitive. Follow-up testing that involves a comprehensive hearing evaluation is required to confirm the diagnosis of a hearing loss.

If an initial screening comes back with a fail result in one or both ears, then a second screening and, perhaps, follow-up testing will be recommended to confirm whether a hearing loss is present and, if so, the type and nature of the loss. This should be done by an audiologist (someone with an advanced degree and appropriate licensure/certification in evaluating hearing) with pediatric experience and the ability to conduct a thorough assessment. It is important that parents do not wait to have the recommended follow-up testing done. Every moment counts when it comes to helping a child who, ultimately, is found to be deaf or hard of hearing. Providing improved access to sound is of utmost importance in helping a child hear and develop a foundation for listening. Putting your child into intervention services should .




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