American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
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Early Intervention for Children with Hearing Loss

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) ensures that children who have hearing loss receive free, appropriate early intervention programs from birth to age 3 and throughout the school years (ages 3 to 21). Early intervention services for infants and toddlers are family-centered and are designed to:

  • Help your child stay on schedule with his or her speech, language, and communication skills
  • Enhance your understanding of your child’s hearing loss and special communication needs
  • Support your family in a way that helps you feel confident in raising your child with hearing loss
  • Keep track of your child's progress and to make decisions for intervention and education each step of the way as your child develops

Why are early identification and early intervention for hearing loss so important?

Hearing is critical for the development of speech, language, communication skills, and learning. The earlier that hearing loss occurs in a child's life, the more serious is the effect on the child's development. Similarly, the earlier the hearing loss is identified and intervention begun, the more likely it is that the delays in speech and language development will be diminished. Recent research indicates that children identified with hearing loss who begin services before 6 months old develop language (spoken or signed) on a par with their hearing peers.

What is the responsibility of the school district when it comes to a student's hearing aids and assistive listening systems?

If a student is eligible for services under IDEA or has a Section 504 plan (under the Rehabilitation Act), then schools are responsible to ensure that hearing aids worn in school are functioning properly. Moreover, hearing assistive technology must be provided if the student requires that service. Students with hearing loss can benefit greatly from, and are frequently provided, hearing assistive devices (such as frequency modulation systems) in their school. It is important that parents choose a hearing aid with capabilities (such as telecoil) to work with these hearing assistive technologies.

Schools must also ensure that those using hearing assistive technology (including teachers) are properly trained.

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