Navigating the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) Process
This page describes many options for audiological intervention. It is recommended that children with hearing loss have routine hearing screens. If families choose to use amplification devices*, they have access to different options and should follow up with an audiologist for device check ups. There is a wide variety of communication and treatment options available for your family to explore.
*Amplification includes the use of hearing aids, cochlear implants, and other devices intended to increase sound awareness.
No single treatment or intervention is the answer for every child or family. Good intervention plans will include close monitoring, follow-ups and any changes needed along the way (even if the family chooses not to use amplification devices). There are many different options for children with hearing loss and their families.
Why Is Screening Important?
Screening is a pass/fail test to determine if your child needs diagnostic testing.
What Does Screening Look Like?
Two different tests are available to screen for hearing loss in babies. Your baby needs to rest or sleep during both tests.
Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) tests determine whether some parts of the ear respond to sound. During this test, a soft earphone is inserted into your baby’s ear canal. It plays sounds and measures an "echo" response that occurs in ears with normal hearing. If there is no echo, your baby might have hearing loss. Learn more.
The Automated Auditory Brainstem Response (AABR) (formerly known as BAER) test measures the auditory nerve and brainstem (which carry sound from the ear to the brain) for response to sound. Once your child has fallen asleep, sensors are placed on the skin behind the ears and on the forehead. A soft earphone is placed in or around the ear and different levels of clicking sounds and tones will be played. Our computer will measure your child’s response to those sounds. It will give us either a pass or fail for each ear. Learn more.
The Importance of Screening
If the results show that your baby may have hearing loss, make an appointment with a pediatric audiologist—a hearing expert who specializes in the assessment and management of children with hearing loss. This follow-up exam should be done as soon as possible, ideally by the time the baby is 2 to 3 months old. The audiologist will conduct tests to determine whether your baby has a hearing problem and, if so, the type and extent of that problem.
The pediatric audiologist may recommend that your baby visit a pediatric ear, nose, and throat (ENT) physician who specializes in conditions affecting the ear, known as a pediatric otologist. A pediatric otologist can determine possible causes of hearing loss and recommend intervention options. If your child has siblings, the audiologist or otologist may also recommend that their hearing be tested (CDC).
Outpatient Audiology Follow-Up Appointments
Following these steps can help ensure that your follow-up appointment is as seamless as possible:
- Wake your baby up early and keep them awake until you reach your appontment. It may be helpful to have someone with you to keep the baby awake.
- To create the best test environment, we ask that only the child recieving the test and one parent or guardian enter the test room.
- Bring a bottle, or if you breastfeed, plan to feed your baby when you arrive for the appointment.
- If your baby sleeps well in a carrier/car seat, please bring it with you.
- Do not use any lotion on the baby's head or ears on the day of the appointment.
Early Intervention provides services to children (birth to age 3) who have hearing loss and/or additional developmental disabilities.
Early intervention staff use a coaching approach in order to help families and other caregivers support the child's learnign and development. Visits take place where the child feels comfortable: home, daycare, or even the park.
An evaluation takes place to determine what types of providers and services would most benefit the child. Some suggestions may include speech, occupational, feeding, and physical therapy. An early interventionist or teacher of the deaf may also work with the child. A service coordinator helps families and caregivers navigate scheduling and goals.
Get Connected to Early Intervention
Every county in Kentucky is divided into regions that serve various counties at a time. These are called Points of Entry (POEs). There are various providers in each region that can work with your child based on the services they qualify for, such as teachers, speech and language pathologists, occupational therapists, and more.
It's never too early to start Early Intervention. Therapists can teach parents how to best interact with their child to further their language development. Interventionists meet you where you are in your journey and are trained to work with children who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing and their families.
Family and Community Support
There are several groups in Kentucky that support families of children with hearing loss, as well as deaf adults.
- Kentucky Hands & Voices is a parent-driven, non-biased group committed to supporting families no matter how you choose to communicate. They believe that when parents are given all of the information and resources, they are able to make the best choices for their family. H&V waiting room
- Guide by your Side (Kentucky Hands & Voices)™ is a family support program that embodies the mission and vision of Hands & Voices™, which is to provide unbiased support to families with children who are deaf or hard of hearing. Guide By Your Side (GBYS) does this through specially trained parents of children who are deaf or hard of hearing. These parents work as “Guides” directly with families who have just learned of their child’s hearing loss, or who have older children and are in need of the unique support that comes from someone else who has walked this path.
Kentucky Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (KCDHH)
is a group that provides effective and efficient leadership, education, advocacy and programs to eliminate barriers and to meet the social, economic, educational, cultural, intellectual and health and human services needs of deaf and hard of hearing Kentuckians.
KY Deaf Blind Project
is a statewide support network for families of children with dual sensory impairments, or deaf-blind
The Impact of Deaf/Hard of Hearing Adults
The inclusion of DHH adults in the lives of families with children who are DHH can have a profound impact for everyone involved; child, parent, professionals and DHH adults. Trained DHH adults who act as mentors, guides or role models are
uniquely qualified to provide families with a positive and hopeful perspective from their day-to-day, real life experiences as a DHH person living in a hearing world. In sharing these experiences and insights, DHH mentors/guides/role models may be able to articulate what a young child cannot, which brings an important perspective and credibility to the team discussion of the child’s needs, extending
Kentucky Hands and Voices hosts virtual and in-person events that give families the chance to interact with Deaf and Hard of Hearing (D/HH) adults. Hands and Voices recognizes the importance of D/HH individuals with diverse languages, modes of communication, ages, education, and life experiences in all aspects of the organization. This diversity provides a valuable resource to families with deaf and hard of hearing children, enabling them to interact with peers and adults who embrace the Hands & Voices philosophy of non-biased support.
“Knowledge about what a child who is deaf or hard of hearing could become and the things s/he could accomplish, can dramatically alter the sequence of the process of grieving.”
One of parents' biggest fears when they find out their child has hearing loss is that their child will not be able to communicate. The good news is, there are many options to explore including speech, sign language, cued speech, and other non-verbal options. Every family and child is unique, and this choice is very personal.
Types of Diagnostic Tests
Your baby will have electrodes/stickers put on their head to get ready for the ABR. The electrodes are stuck to the baby’s skin and connected to a computer. They record hearing nerve activity in response to sounds the baby hears through earphones. This can be done while the baby sleeps or under anesthesia. The person doing the test will see the results on a computer printout and will review once testing is complete. Learn more.
A small earphone, or probe, is placed in your baby’s ear. The probe puts sounds into your baby’s ear and measures the sounds that come back. Baby does not need to do anything during the test, just needs to be quiet. The person doing the test can see the results on the monitor screen. Learn more.
This is a test to see how well your baby’s eardrum moves. A small probe will be placed in your baby’s ear. The result gives the audiologist information about the health of your child’s middle ear.
VRA is often used with small children who are able to turn in the direction of a sound coming through a speaker. When a child notices and turns toward a sound a lighted visual image such as a moving toy or video appears. This test is performed while you hold your child on your lap in a sound treated room.
CPA mainly is used with preschool and slightly older children. The child is shown how to place an object into a container when a sound is heard through a speaker or headphones. The chlid also may be asked to point to a body part, picture or repeat a simple word as response. Parents/guardians/caregivers can practice CPA procedures and introduce listening devices like earbuds or headphones prior to the test to make the child more comfortable and less anxious at test time.
DI/TDHH stands for Developmental Interventionist – Teacher of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing. DI/TDHH help families decide what they need to do to get to the next phase of communication and can connect them with resources and supports. DI/TDHH are able to meet parents on a personal level and it is led by the child and families’ unique needs from the start. Both an SLP and DI/TDHH can be helpful in your child's development. Be sure to talk to your early interventionist about working with these providers.
SLP stands for Speech-Language Pathologist. Speech-language pathologists (SLP’s) work to prevent, assess, diagnose, and treat speech, language, social communication, cognitive-communication, and swallowing disorders in children and adults. Both an SLP and DI/TDHH can be helpful in your child's development. Be sure to talk to your early interventionist about working with these providers.
Audiologists are health care professionals who evaluate, diagnose, treat and manage hearing and balance disorders. Audiologists who only work with children are called pediatric audiologists.
Children diagnosed with hearing loss should have regular follow-up appointments with a audiologist to monitor the hearing loss, the child’s communication development and any amplification devices used. Regular adjustments to hearing devices may be necessary to ensure optimum performance for the child's needs. Audiologists also support families by connecting them with local resources.
An ENT is an ear, nose and throat doctor who specializes in caring for each of those body parts. An ENT who performs surgery is called an otolaryngologist. ENTs can treat problems of the ear that may be detected in a hearing screen.
Patients who have been diagnosed with any type of hearing loss are referred to an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist, often called an ENT or otolaryngologist. They are part of the team that manages the care for people with hearing loss. ENT Specialists examine ears for excessive ear wax or skin conditions, monitor how well a patient’s middle ear works, and watch a patient’s hearing loss for changes. They also attempt to determine the cause of a patient’s hearing loss, often by ordering bloodwork and imaging (CT scans and/or MRIs). Medical clearance from an ENT is required before a patient under 18 can be fit with hearing aids. A medical clearance statement simply states that the patient does not have a medical condition that would keep them from using or benefiting from a hearing device. The ENT will work with the audiologist to determine the best type of amplification/hearing device for a patient. If is it decided that a cochlear implant or implanted bone conduction device is the best option, they will be the doctor who performs this surgery.
For small children these are worn behind the ear and are attached to an earpiece made specifically for the child. The sound from the hearing aid is based on the child’s hearing loss and is delivered from the aid, through the earpiece into the child’s ear canal.
Hearing aids use vibration to deliver amplified sound to the ears, and can be worn on a softband or implanted. They are programmed based on the wearer’s hearing loss.
Cochlear implants stimulate the hearing nerve directly. Signals that are created by the implant are sent from the hearing nerve to the brain where they are recognized as sound. They are programmed based on the wearer’s hearing loss.
Send sound to a hearing device to help make sounds clearer in noisy environments.