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For Families and Caregivers
Communication is Key
Language is how your baby learns, and communication and language development begin at birth. Babies use sounds and movements to communicate before one year of age, regardless of their hearing level. It is important to find out your baby’s hearing level as early as possible so that you can figure out the best way to communicate and bond with your child. Children who are deaf or hard of hearing may need to learn other ways of communicating, such as sign language.
If your baby is deaf or hard of hearing, they needs to receive support and early intervention services to learn, grow, and thrive. Your baby should receive these services as soon as possible - at least before your baby is 6 months old, but earlier is better. The Louisiana Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Program (LA EHDI) and its partner programs can help guide you through the process and ensure you, your child, and your family receive the support you need.
The Hearing Screening & Intervention Process: What to Expect
Hearing Screening – before 1 month old
Newborn hearing screening measures a baby’s auditory (hearing) system response when they hear sounds. All babies are required to get a hearing screening before they leave the hospital. While newborn hearing screening can’t determine if your baby is deaf or hard of hearing, it will let you know if your baby needs more testing. If a baby requires follow-up testing after the initial hearing screening, they will need to be rescreened.
Diagnostic Testing – before 3 months of age
Some babies need follow-up testing after being rescreened. Those babies will be referred to an audiologist to receive diagnostic testing. This test will confirm your baby's hearing level and determine whether or not they have hearing loss.
Click here to see our resource for families with a child who needs diagnostic testing.
Early Intervention – before 6 months of age
Babies who are diagnosed as deaf or hard of hearing will be referred to support and early intervention services. The EHDI program will link you to services that can help you in this process. The organizations listed in the next section will reach out to you to provide support and guidance.
Click here to see our resource for families with a child diagnosed as deaf or hard of hearing (en Espanol) and this resource for families with a child diagnosed as deaf or hard of hearing in one ear.
Click here to see our Communication Options Guide to start exploring the different ways deaf and hard of hearing children can learn how to communicate.
If at any point you become concerned about your child’s hearing, talk with your pediatrician and let them know that you would like your child to have another hearing screening. Use these milestones to see if your child is on track.
For Families of Babies Diagnosed as Deaf or Hard of Hearing
For families whose baby is diagnosed as deaf or hard of hearing, we are able to provide some great resources and support services to help guide you through this process. Upon diagnosis, the following organizations will reach out to you:
- Parent Pupil Education Program (PPEP) – A specialized early intervention service for families with children who are deaf or hard of hearing.
- Louisiana Hands and Voices Guide by Your Side – Receive family-to-family support from a trained parent guide that will listen and share their story with you.
- EarlySteps – EarlySteps will help you decide what type of services your child needs and link you with providers that will help your child learn new language and communication skills.
Visit our Additional Resources page for resources to help you decide how you and your family want to communicate. The page has resources related to Listening and Spoken Language, American Sign Language, Cued Speech and Total Communication.
Early intervention is the heart of the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) program. If your child was recently diagnosed as deaf or hard or hearing, EHDI will link you to providers that will help create an individualized plan for your family. The plan will include services and resources that will help your baby develop their language and communication skills to keep their development on track.
The partnership between parents and providers will focus on meeting everyone in the family’s needs (siblings, grandparents, etc.) so that your baby can communicate and bond with as many people as possible. The sooner a child starts early intervention, the better their language and communication skills can be. Early intervention professionals are trained in a variety of disciplines and include:
- Speech/Language Pathologists (SLP): A SLP will help your child with language development whether that be spoken language or sign language.
- Audiologists: Audiologists can identify your baby’s hearing level, fit them for hearing aids, and program cochlear implants.
- Deaf Educators: A deaf educator understands how deaf or hard of hearing children learn and will teach you and your baby skills to help promote language, communication, and listening.
- Early Childhood Specialists: These specialists will help create a plan for your child and family and make sure you have access to resources and services that will help your baby learn and grow.
Check out this website to learn more about other people you may work with through early intervention services.
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