Meet Your Early Intervention Team
Mary Pat Moeller, Ph.D
Director, Center for Childhood Deafness
If you have learned that your child is deaf or hard of hearing, we understand that you may have many questions and concerns about what resources are available for your family.
Hi, I'm Mary Pat Moeller, Director of the Center for Childhood Deafness at Boys Town National Research Hospital.
We have created this video to introduce you to the different professionals and specialists that may become part of your child's early intervention team. Your team is here to guide you and help you develop a service plan that best fits your child and family's needs.
Your Medical Team
The Universal Newborn Screening is a mandatory screening conducted in the hospital before your newborn goes home.
Children who do not pass the newborn screening are first referred to an audiologist for diagnostic testing to confirm the results. An audiologist is someone who specializes in measuring hearing and fitting amplification devices.
An audiologist is a very important member of your team. This person tracks your baby's hearing levels over time and uses special technology to fit, program and adjust hearing aids and cochlear implants.
Your family will also be referred to an Ear, Nose and Throat physician called an Otolaryngologist. Your physician may request further tests to determine the cause of your child's hearing loss and make recommendations for your child's medical treatment options, such as providing medical clearance for hearing aids or referring to a cochlear implant team.
Your child's ENT physician and your audiologist follow your child's hearing needs from infancy through adulthood.
Your Educational Team
An old proverb states it takes a village to raise a child. Your child will be surrounded by a team of professionals who will work closely with your family to ensure that your child's needs are met. Depending on your family's goals and your child's personal needs, you may not work with every team member indicated in this video.
One of the first persons that your family may meet is the Service Coordinator. This person works with early intervention programs in your community and will help you connect with educational programs, support services, and community resources. Sometimes many professionals become involved in your child's care. Your service coordinator works closely with you and your team to help develop and implement an Individual Family Service Plan.
Next, your family will be assigned a family-infant specialist. Family-Infant specialists may have a variety of backgrounds such as a teacher of the deaf, speech-language pathologist or early childhood specialist. Often, this is someone who has been specifically trained in early education and has experience working with families who have a child who is deaf or hard of hearing.
Your family infant specialist will work with you to develop an individualized family services plan based on your needs and your child's strengths and current development. This plan outlines your child's developmental needs and establishes milestone goals for the first three years of life including: auditory skills, physical skills, cognitive skills, communication skills, social and emotional skills and independence.
It is important for your family to have a partnership with your family-infant specialist. You know more about your child than any professional, but by partnering with a family-infant specialist, you can join your knowledge and skills to benefit your child.
During home visits, your family-infant specialist will observe you playing naturally with your child. Rather than working directly with your child, this professional will support and coach you with ideas for promoting your child's development during every day routines, like diapering, feeding and playing.
Depending on your family's communication goals, your team may include a Speech-Language Pathologist or a Listening and Spoken Language Specialist who works on developing listening, talking, and learning words and concepts. Some speech language pathologists are also skilled in sign language. If your speech language pathologist or spoken language specialist does not offer sign, your service coordinator may be able assist your family in finding the appropriate resource, as needed.
Families may choose to work with a teacher who has specialized training in educating children who are deaf or hard of hearing. A teacher of the deaf or hard of hearing has in-depth understanding of the ways in which hearing loss affects learning and incorporates strategies to promote listening, language, learning and communication access.
Sometimes children who are deaf or hard of hearing have additional developmental needs such as vision impairment or motor or balance challenges.
Additional professionals can help identify special needs, address family or child challenges and provide support along the way. Your service coordinator and team members will help you find additional specialists to compliment your Individual Family Service Plan and enhance your child's development.
95% of children born deaf or hard of hearing have hearing parents. It is important for families to understand that they are not alone in the journey.
Support can come from talking with friends and other families with children who are deaf or hard of hearing. Some national family to family support networks include: Hands and Voices, Alexander Graham Bell Association and the American Society for Deaf Children. Contact your service coordinator for information on local support groups in your community.
Babyhearing.org is a comprehensive web site specifically designed for parents of children who have recently been identified as deaf or hard of hearing. This site offers detailed information on hearing loss, amplification and listening devices, parent to parent support groups and parent trainings, and further outlines each member of your family's early intervention team.
Nebraska parents can contact the Early Development Network comprehensive information on services for your family. Parents can look to Boys Town National Research Hospital for information and resources on hearing evaluations, listening devices, speech and language development, research studies, preschool and parent education and support.
We hope this video has helped answer your questions about the many early intervention services available for your child. Every team member plays an important role in your child's journey. By working together you and your team will find the right programs and services for your child's needs and your family goals.
For additional information and resources, please visit boystownhospital.org and babyhearing.org.