Our vision is that families affected by childhood hearing loss will have access to medical care early enough to establish a diagnosis, medical goals and educational goals by 6 months of age so that language development is supported and maximized in all cases:
In those instances where Listening and Spoken Language are realistic goals the following rigorous timetable should be worked toward:
- Amplification should be started by 6 months of age. To the extent that the infant possesses any residual hearing, amplification of sound with hearing aids will begin the process of stimulating growth that supports hearing in the brain. If the degree of hearing loss is such that hearing aids alone may allow access to speech sounds at normal listening levels hearing aid use may be enough to allow language acquisition.
- Cochlear Implantation by 12 months if needed. If hearing aids are not sufficient to provide access to clear sound in the normal speech ranges cochlear implantation is indicated. For the most common causes of hearing loss, cochlear implantation is the most frequently indicated medical treatment.
- Auditory-verbal therapy: 12-36 months. Auditory-verbal therapy enables the newly implanted child to develop speech and hearing. For children using hearing aids and cochlear implants language immersion in a Listening and Spoken Language (LSL) classroom environment is also important. LSL instructors and auditory-verbal therapists are certified in the United States by the AG Bell Academy.
- Auditory-oral education: 36-60 months. As kindergarten age approaches, an individualized education program(IEP) should gradually move the child from intensive supports in a totally specialized classroom to a mainstreamed environment with typically developing age-matched peers.
- Post-kindergarten educational settings that comply with requirements of federal law, in particular, the requirement for a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment as specified in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
In instances that Listening and Spoken Language are not possible or are uncertain goals the following rigorous timetable should be worked toward:
- Intensive American Sign Language(ASL) education of the infant and parents should be initiated.
- Attendance at a signing preschool by 12 months to 60 months If speech emerges, the individualized education program(IEP) should gradually move the child to a specialized classroom for listening and spoken language development.
- Attendance at a signing kindergarten if listening and spoken language development are not sufficient for mainstreaming based on school based assessments of language and an Independent Educational Evaluation(IEE) if needed.
- Attendance at a mainstream kindergarten if language skills permit based on school based assessments of language and an Independent Educational Evaluation(IEE) if needed.
- Post Kindergarten education at a Mainstream or signing school depending on school based assessments of language and an Independent Educational Evaluation(IEE) if needed.