If hearing loss is confirmed in your infant, you will be given full information regarding appropriate steps for follow-up. You will be referred back to your pediatrician and to an otolaryngologist, or Ear, Nose, and Throat physician, who specializes in pediatric hearing loss. The ENT physician will most likely order lab work and imaging studies to rule out any related medical conditions to the hearing loss. You will also most likely be referred to an ophthalmologist (eye doctor) and a genetic counselor. Additionally, it is state law that the audiologist who identifies your baby’s hearing loss alerts the state so that the Early Start program can offer early intervention services.
Universal newborn hearing screening has greatly increased the number of infants who are identified with hearing loss. While this is great news for supporting infants, you may feel overwhelmed by a diagnosis of hearing loss so early in life, especially when your infant is healthy and there is no family history of hearing loss. In fact, 90 percent of children born with a severe to profound hearing loss have parents with normal hearing. You are suddenly faced with questions about your child’s future and the implications of the diagnosis, as well as distressing feelings. The Hearing and Speech Center has a wide range of expertise to help you navigate these new waters.
The goal of the Center’s FACES (Family-Audiology-Counseling-Education-Speech & Language) program is to offer support and guidance during this time.Professionals on the FACES team include a Doctor of Audiology, an Educational Psychology Counselor, and a Speech-Language Pathologist. All are intimately aware of the questions and emotions that arise with a new diagnosis of hearing loss in a young child. Enrollment is open to all families, regardless of income, communication modality, or hearing health home. Families are invited to join the FACES program for one to up to eight sessions, depending on their interests and needs. An initial welcome and intake session introduces the family to the program, identifies needs, and sets goals. Any and all of the topics listed below can be covered during the meeting times. By the end of the sessions, the family will have constructed a personal binder with the relevant information and will have opportunities to meet other families facing pediatric hearing loss. The FACES program is offered to families free of charge.
FACES works as a team to help parents immediately after diagnosis gain the key information to make positive decisions for their child, including:
- Communication modalities: American Sign Language vs. Total Communication vs. Auditory Oral
- School options: Private schools, public schools, early education programs.
- Hearing technology and health: What are the options for a child with hearing loss and what questions should parents ask the audiologist?
- Advocacy: What rights do the parents and child have in the classroom?
- Financial planning: Insurance coverage and options are complicated. How can you plan for and navigate the costs of caring for your child’s hearing health?
- Resources: Information about wonderful support in the Bay Area – parent groups, community agencies, advocacy groups, legal support options, etc.
Cochlear Implant Interconnect or CI Interconnect is a partnership with UCSF for families considering a cochlear implant for their child. A cochlear implant may or may not be the right choice for a child and there are various personal and medical considerations. Families who participate in CI Interconnect receive all the benefits of the FACES program described above, but also incorporate the ENT doctors in the guidance process.
Partners in Communication
For ongoing support, Partners in Communication connects families with counselors for ongoing support for children from infancy to age 18. Your counselor will work with you one-on-one to provide referrals, answer questions, help you and your child cope during difficult times, provide communication tools on how to communicate to your child, and connect you and your child to age-appropriate activities to support his/her development.
Our counselors can help you feel informed and prepared to support your child’s language, cognitive and social development and provide information about your and your child’s rights in the school system. Our counselors can meet with you as often or as little as needed. Most families will meet at least annually with a counselor to prepare for their annual Individual Education Plan with their school district.
For more about Partners in Communication download our flyer or contact us to make an appointment.