Support Service Professionals
The majority of babies who are identified with a hearing loss are born to hearing parents. In most cases there is no other history of hearing loss in the family. This will often leave the parents and other family members overwhelmed, feeling very alone and needing to reach out to others. Parents may feel they need to become instant experts on the subject of hearing loss in order to make the right decisions for their baby.
There are many decisions that will need to be made. It is important to know which professional is best prepared to answer questions and provide helpful information. These support services professionals may include:
- Services Coordinator – a professional who works with early intervention programs and closely with the family to identify needs and to ensure that providers work together and coordinate their efforts to make intervention manageable for the family
- Infant/Family Specialist – a teacher who specializes in working with babies who have hearing loss and their families
- Pediatric Audiologist – a professional who specializes in testing the hearing of the baby and children and recommends hearing instruments and options
- Speech-language Pathologist – a professional who specializes in speech and speech development
- Otolaryngologist – also called an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT), a doctor who specializes in problems of the ear, nose and throat
- Pediatrician or Family Practitioner – a doctor who provides primary health care for babies and children
The main goal of these professionals is to work together to limit the effects of the hearing loss on the baby’s development. It is essential that appropriate services begin as soon as possible, preferably before six months of age, so speech and language development is not delayed, negatively impacting social and emotional growth and academic achievement.