Assessing Parental Role as Resource Persons in Achieving Goals of Early Detection and Intervention for Children with Hearing Impairment
Early detection and intervention for any degree of hearing loss is critical to the linguistic, social and educational development of children with auditory deficit. Since parents and family members are in a position to identify hearing loss at an early stage, they can play a vital role in achieving the goals of early identification and intervention for their children.
Purpose: This study was conducted to determine the age at which parents and significant others begin to suspect hearing impairmentin their children, and to advocate for using them as resource persons in the early detection of hearing loss.
Method: Parents of children with hearing impairment were retrospectively surveyed and interviewed to determine the age at which suspicion, diagnosis, fitting of amplification and initiation of interventions occurred.
Results: Interviews revealed the average age to be 16.5, 24.3, 31.7 and 33.4 months, for suspicion, diagnosis, fitting of amplification and initiation of early intervention for hearing loss respectively. The obtained age of suspicion is lower than the age of identification of hearing loss reported in Indian literature. The current study found delays in diagnosis and fitting of amplification, both of which are essential to initiate early remedial programmes which facilitate development of speech and language skills in children with hearing impairment. Surprisingly, it was found that these delays were caused by professional failures.
Conclusion: It is emphasised that parents are in the best position to detect hearing problems in their children, and can be effectively utilised as manpower/equal partners in achieving the goal of early identification of hearing loss. The study outlines appropriate ways and means to facilitate early identification and provide effective intervention for children with hearing impairment.
Implications: In the absence of a universal hearing screening programme for newborn infants, parents can be used as manpower/resource persons to identify children with hearing impairment.
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