The introduction of universal newborn screening has expanded the capacity of medical professionals to treat children with a hearing loss. However, while children and their families are now able to receive the appropriate auditory services sooner than ever before, initial service providers sometimes lack the skills to properly assess each child's hearing loss.
For infants and toddlers identified through universal newborn screening and who have received cochlear implants, recommendations for mainstream education are often made too far in advance and can mislead families as they begin to plan for their child's life. We believe that decisions regarding the education of a child with a hearing loss should occur when the child has reached an appropriate stage of development and should take into consideration the variety of communication and instruction methods available at that time.
In collaboration with Baystate Health, the Early Intervention Team of the WRSD Outreach Division provides services to infants identified as deaf or hard of hearing through universal newborn screening programs sponsored by birthing centers and hospitals throughout Western Massachusetts.
WRSD's Early Intervention Team typically includes the parents or caregivers of the child, an audiologist, a speech/language pathologist, a teacher of the deaf and, on an as-needed basis, additional specialists such as social workers. Our team of experts assess the strengths and challenges of each child and family to provide the most comprehensive support services possible.
For more information, contact Kate Devlin-DeLisle, Early Intervention Coordinator for the Outreach Department.