Raising a child is not easy work. You want to provide a safe, healthy, loving environment for your children to thrive. But what if your child suddenly is faced with hearing loss? Learning this information can be overwhelming and you may have many questions. You may be worried you don’t know the questions you should be asking or what resources you should be seeking out. Most importantly, how do you communicate with your child who is deaf or hard of hearing?
As a response to such circumstances, the Alexander Graham Bell Association for Deaf and Hard of Hearing (AG Bell) recently announced the launch of their Listen-Learn-Link, a new international bilingual (English/Spanish) hotline for parents, caregivers, and guardians of newly identified children with hearing loss.
AG Bell’s Listen-Learn-Link’s Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) Emphasis
The federal government’s Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) legislation in 2000 requires a newborn to be screened for hearing loss prior to being discharged from the hospital. The screening itself is not extremely comprehensive, so if you have concerns of hearing loss for your child, it is important to seek out a professional to conduct a comprehensive hearing test.
Early intervention is extremely important among infants with hearing loss because it impacts acquisition of listening and spoken language skills. Our brains are programmed to learn language within the first six years of our lives, with the first three and a half being the most critical. Without intervention, achieving language and literacy skills becomes increasingly difficult as a child ages.
One of the key areas of emphasis with the Listen-Learn-Link hotline is within early intervention. Those who call in will be speaking with Julie Swaim, a seven-year veteran in the EDHI field and AG Bell’s early intervention parent consultant. As a parent whose child has hearing loss, Ms. Swaim is able to relate to parents about challenges associated with hearing loss in children and what the necessary moving forward for the child to receive the right treatment and resources. Those resources include contacts at state chapters, who can provide state and local services available, as well as access to a network of audiologists and speech language pathologists.
Gayla Guignard, AG Bell’s Chief Strategy Officer and also an audiologist, a speech-language pathologist, and a certified Listening and Spoken Language Specialist through AG Bell’s Academy, states, “Having access to another parent who has traveled a similar road can be a lifesaver for new parents of a child with hearing loss. AG Bell is launching its new hotline so new parents, caregivers and guardians can have easy access to a parent who has had similar experiences and who also understands the systems and services that they will soon access for their own child and family.”
Listen-Learn-Link is part of AG Bell’s larger Cradle to Career initiative, launched in late 2017, which provides continued support, resources, information, and services for families, children, and adults as they continue on their journey with hearing loss.
AG Bell’s Cradle to Career Initiative
The main goal of AG Bell’s Cradle to Career Initiative is to support a child’s journey with Listening and Spoken Language through four phases. According to AG Bell’s website, these four phases are:
- Supporting parents at the time of diagnosis with the AG Bell Hotline and informational webinars on topics of vital importance early in a child’s life;
- Expanding awareness that children with hearing loss can learn to hear and talk through locally-based learning expositions in partnership with AG Bell Chapters;
- Providing hands-on internships at our Partners’ headquarters to help youth and young adults prepare for an effective transition into the workforce; and
- Placing college students with hearing loss in auditory research internships with collaborating universities to encourage them to persevere in the sciences and contribute directly to the research affecting their own challenges and serving the work of our Partners.
To learn more about AG Bell’s Cradle to Career Initiative and how it supports families, contributes to the knowledge of professionals, and builds career opportunities for people with hearing loss, please visit their website here.
Desert Valley Audiology
If you are a parent whose child is facing hearing loss, reach out to us at Desert Valley Audiology and we will be able to assist you through the process of finding the necessary resources, information, and test for you and your family to be ready to overcome any challenges!