When parents discover their child is born deaf or hard of hearing, there’s a lot going through their heads.

They certainly want to help their children and will look for resources that will assist them. However, more than 90 percent of parents in this situation don’t know how to effectively do either of those things as it is their first time dealing with deafness in the family. In fact, many parents have never even met a child who is deaf or hard of hearing.

By engaging with specialized services early in the child’s development, parents can bolster their children’s chances for success in speech and language development, preparing them for success in school and for the rest of their lives.

Multi-pronged approach

Early intervention is designed to do just that by offering a range of targeted services ensuring success for young children who are deaf or hard of hearing. In a state’s early intervention system, families work with a team of specialists who provide holistic developmental support addressing a broad spectrum of priorities and concerns.

These teams comprise audiologists, developmental specialists, listening and spoken language specialists, and certified speech-language pathologists (CCC-SLP), who may also be certified listening and spoken language specialists. To maximize the benefits of their expertise, these professionals must be involved in the beginning of a family’s journey.

An invaluable resource

SLPs give parents the tools and children the strength to effectively communicate their needs and wants in many situations, which is integral to the child’s positive growth. This unique connection to the family and child places SLPs in a key role as a provider of supplemental resources and services, such as the AG Bell Listen-Learn-Link New Parent Hotline.

Parents are children’s first teachers, conveying love and knowledge through play, touch and communication. The purpose of early intervention provided by SLPs is to maximize the child’s ability to communicate effectively and help parents reassert their roles as primary teachers to their children.

Whatever the hat — early intervention evaluator, service provider and coach, consultant, planner, or coordinator — receiving speech and language services through early childhood intervention sets the foundation for developing communication success.