A system of care. A community of support.
Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) focuses on ensuring that all infants and toddlers with hearing loss are identified as early as possible and provided with timely and appropriate audiology, education, and medical intervention. The goal of EHDI is to prevent or minimize the consequences of hearing loss on speech and language development through timely and effective diagnosis and interventions. Hospital newborn hearing screening programs, outpatient hearing screening programs, primary health care providers, otolaryngologists, and audiologists are each in key positions to educate families about the importance of follow-up, and their role is more effective if they themselves are well informed and well skilled.
Before newborn hearing screening was universally instituted, children with severe-to-profound hearing loss, on average, completed the 12th grade with a 3rd- to 4th- grade reading level and language levels of a 9- to 10-year old hearing child. In contrast, infants and toddlers with mild to profound hearing loss who are identified in the first six months of life and provided with immediate and appropriate intervention have significantly better outcomes than later-identified infants and children in vocabulary development, receptive and expressive language, syntax, speech production and social-emotional development. Children enrolled in early intervention within the first year of life have also been shown to have language development within the normal range of development at 5 years of age.
The term “intervention services” is used to describe any type of habilitative, rehabilitative or educational program provided to children with hearing loss. Parents of infants with a newly diagnosed hearing loss should be offered opportunities to interact with other families who have infants or children with hearing loss as well as adults and children who are deaf or hard of hearing. Parents should be able to access professional, educational, and consumer organizations and be provided with information on general development, language development, and hearing loss. Foundational characteristics of developing and implementing early intervention programs include a family-centered approach, culturally responsive practices, collaborative professional-family relationships and strong family involvement, developmentally appropriate practice, interdisciplinary assessment and community-based provision of services.