This page offers an introduction to some of the services available to you and your child; various laws and rights grant you access to these services at no cost.
Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) is a key goal of the CDC, because early identification of hearing loss, one of the most common birth defects, is extremely important. Undetected and untreated hearing losses can lead to developmental delays, so the CDC has designed a protocol with the aim of minimizing negative outcomes. The so-called 1-3-6 benchmarks refer to the goals of screening a child’s hearing before 1 month of age, evaluating the child’s hearing (i.e., determining whether the child has a hearing loss and if so, what type) before 3 months of age, and beginning early intervention before 6 months of age.
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a law that provides free and appropriate education for children with disabilities. It also grants these children with access to necessary special services or programs.
Early Intervention/Part C Program: Every state has this program for children from birth to 3 years of age. It provides families with a service coordinator who can help the family navigate and organize the various services that are available to them. The service coordinator and various professionals work together with the family to organize an Individualized Family Service Plan (ISFP).
Individualized Family Service Plan (ISFP): A written document detailing the services that will be provided to the child and their family from the child’s birth to age 3. The service coordinator, the relevant professionals, and the family all work together to form this document so that is extremely specific and maximally beneficial to the child and their family.
Individual Education Plan (IEP): After age 3, the child transitions from an ISFP to an IEP. This plan and its corresponding services are available until 21 years of age. The IEP is also created by the family, professionals, and a service coordinator, but it includes specific educational and learning-related goals and objectives for the child.
The 504 plan differs from IDEA in that IDEA is a law, while 504 refers to a civil right within the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. A 504 plan, unlike an IEP, has no age limits and is available to anyone with a disability included in the law. The plan is designed for the student to ensure that they receive any necessary accommodations that will help them succeed academically.
All the team members should be in contact with each other, sharing information and expertise relevant to the child with a hearing loss and their family. A family may have some or all of the following experts on their team:
Genetics team: May be involved in diagnosing a child’s hearing loss and, if the hearing loss is genetic, may consult with other professionals about the treatment for the hearing loss. May also provide information about the chances of hearing loss in other children in the family.
Medical professionals: May include pediatricians, family physicians, primary care doctors, and/or nurse practitioners. These professionals can help in diagnosing and treating medical conditions, and they will often play a main role in coordinating with other medical professionals involved in a child’s team. They will also be responsible for tracking the child’s progression and development. They may also recommend certain specialists based on their experience with the child.
Early interventionists: Specialize in working with children from birth to age 3, and will work closely with a family to help identify the particular services needed by the family and child.
Ear, nose, and throat doctor (ENT): An ENT may be involved in diagnosing and treating a child’s hearing loss.
Audiologist: Can test a child for hearing loss and convey information about the results to the family. The audiologist may recommend and provide amplification devices. They may also have information about auditory training and communication options.
Speech-language pathologist (SLP): An SLP can test a child with hearing loss for speech and language problems, as well as provide therapy to remedy or prevent any problems.
Deaf or hard-of-hearing adult: May provide personal information or guidance to the family based on their life and experiences as a deaf or hard-of-hearing individual.
Information developed by Soleil Slawson