Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

EARLY INTERVENTION: A MULTICULTURAL PERSPECTIVE ON d/DEAF AND HARD OF HEARING MULTILINGUAL LEARNERS

Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

EARLY INTERVENTION: A MULTICULTURAL PERSPECTIVE ON d/DEAF AND HARD OF HEARING MULTILINGUAL LEARNERS

Article excerpt

Early Intervention: A Multicultural Perspective

Early intervention (El) is provided to infants and toddlers up to 3 years of age to support parents and families in maximizing a child's development. El is federally mandated in the United States under Part C of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA). These services are made available to young children who have an identified disability or who are at risk of developmental delays. Infants and toddlers who are deaf or hard of hearing (d/Dhh) qualify for services under Part C because they have a diagnosed hearing loss which, if left untreated, may result in a developmental delay. Under Part C, families work with a service coordinator to write an individualized family service plan (IFSP) to determine the program, services, and interventions a child will need to enable optimal learning opportunities. Intervention may focus on physical, cognitive, communication, social-emotional, and selfhelp skills.

El is also recommended under the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Act of 2010 (EHDI). The goal of EHDI programs is to identify hearing loss and provide appropriate interventions. The Joint Committee on Infant Hearing (2007) of the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended a "13-6" model under which children would be tested by means of the universal newborn hearing screening before the age of 1 month, would have the presence of any hearing loss confirmed by age 3 months, and by age 6 months would begin receiving El services. Screening, identification, and carefully designed individualized El is critical to help children achieve their full potential (Yoshinaga-Itano, 2014). Every U.S. state and territory has an established EHDI program (National Center for Hearing Assessment and Management, n.d.). Additionally, the World Health Organization (2010) convened a meeting of a group of international experts in 2009 for an informal consultation on newborn and infant hearing screening. The goal of this meeting was to identify key principles for infant screening to guide the development of WHO recommendations for countries all over the world. The international experts concluded that while newborn hearing screening had become a widely used tool in some countries, others still considered screening to be costly and not of value. The experts also found that among those countries that had newborn hearing screening, there was great variation within countries. Of particular interest was their finding that financial factors were not necessarily predictive of program effectiveness. Some wealthy countries had ineffective programs, while some less-wealthy countries had successful ones (WHO, 2010). WHO also indicated that screening is simply one part of the process; corresponding Els (e.g., routine-based strategies to facilitate communication and socialemotional development) must be in place if a program is to be considered beneficial.

Research has demonstrated when d/Dhh children receive appropriate El services, their language, speech, cognitive, and social-emotional development is better than that of later-identified children (Moeller, 2000, 2007; Yoshinago-Itano, 2003,2006). It is reasonable for families to expect their children to achieve language skills, cognitive levels, and social skills comparable those of typically hearing peers (Sass-Lehrer, 2011). Understanding the importance of El lays the foundation for providing services to families with infants and toddlers who are d/Dhh. The present article explores the intricacies of providing carefully designed individualized family-centered early intervention (FCEI) for d/Dhh infants and toddlers with families from a minority culture and/or who speak a language other than English-that is, infants and toddlers who are or will become d/Dhh Multilingual Learners (DMLs). Five themes will be addressed: family and professional partnerships, family decision-making and linguistic diversity, research in El for DMLs, competencies for FCEI providers, and transitioning to preschool. …

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