Habilitation and Outreach
The Habilitation and Outreach Program is dedicated to maximizing the success of every child who receives a cochlear implant. The program provides numerous services for patients and for the therapeutic and educational programs who serve children with cochlear implants. Our program will:
- Offer counseling sessions dedicated to the parents of newly-diagnosed children with hearing loss, including an explanation of communication choices, provision of local and national informational resources, and consultation to address concerns and questions regarding communication development in children with cochlear implants;
- Provide pre-implant evaluation of current speech, language and auditory skills;
- Serve as a resource, by providing consultation, evaluation, and in-service presentations, to educational and therapeutic programs who request assistance in the provision of appropriate rehabilitation services to children in their care;
- Provide post-implant evaluation of speech, language, and auditory skill development;
- Offer post-implant rehabilitation therapy using the Auditory-Verbal / Listening and Spoken Language approach.
Our team believes that adequate aural rehabilitation is an essential component to the success of children post-implantation. Following are the principles by which we guide families through this process:
The earlier the better. Research has proven that early intervention is essential to maximize outcomes of children with hearing loss. Early identification of the hearing loss and subsequent fitting of hearing aids lessens the length of sensory deprivation to the auditory pathways. If children fail to gain benefit from hearing aids with appropriate rehabilitation, they may benefit from a referral for determination of cochlear implant candidacy.
Regardless of the method of communication the child uses, it is essential that he/she receives adequate aural (re)habilitation therapy post-implantation. Although the expectations for outcomes and style of therapy can differ between the methods, all therapy should target auditory skills using normal sequences of development and should seek to attain skills at an expected rate.
The achievements of children are guided both by opportunity and ability. Our team believes that children should be given the opportunity to succeed to the highest level that their abilities will take them. There are many factors that contribute to the success of auditory skill development. Through extensive pre-implant counseling, families are made aware of these factors and how they might impact the progress of their child.
Children need to have complete and consistent access to sound in order to develop skills at an acceptable rate. Regular appointments with our cochlear implant audiologists to evaluate the child’s cochlear implant are essential to the optimal functioning of the device. In addition, parents must maintain extra parts and batteries and become skilled at troubleshooting, in case the implant becomes unworkable at home.
Parents and caregivers must be an active participant in the child’s (re)habilitation. Children’s first and most important teacher is their primary caregiver. Therefore, parent training is essential for the linguistic success of the child. Children cannot develop a functional communication system, if the only intervention they receive is in a therapy room. Specific speech, language and auditory goals should be targeted daily in the child’s home environment.
Professionals involved with a child in an aural rehabilitation program should create a system that allows for consistency and coordination of services. We work hard to develop and maintain a strong working relationship with the therapeutic and educational professionals, who work with our patients. Our program provides consultation services, as well as in-service trainings, for private and school-based professionals serving children with cochlear implants.