The Children’s Hearing Program at the Ear Institute is designed to offer a comprehensive treatment and support system not just for the children affected by hearing loss but for the parents as well. From the moment you enter our warm and friendly environment, the emphasis is on putting your child at ease. And, of course, on ensuring they get the most comprehensive evaluation possible to determine the source and degree of their hearing problem.
Testing your child’s hearing
To that end, the Children’s Hearing Program has one of the largest teams of experienced audiologists anywhere. We have special expertise in evaluating hearing in neonates, infants and difficult to test children, including children with autism or developmental delay.
Information obtained from the hearing evaluation assists in planning medical or surgical intervention, selecting appropriate technology (hearing aids and/or cochlear implants) and in making recommendations to improve functioning at school or work.
If testing confirms a need for hearing amplification, our audiologists will work closely with you to select a hearing aid from among the six major manufacturers that is best suited to your child’s needs. Because of the relationships we’ve established with these companies, we have the ability to secure “loaner” hearing aids for children under three. This allows you to bypass the standard four, five or six months’ wait to get state government approval to pay for the device under the Early Intervention Program (see below), and get your child fitted immediately.
In addition to selection and fitting of a hearing device, our audiologists are prepared to become your partner for the long-term. That is, they will continue to train and counsel you and your child and make all necessary adjustments to the instrument as your child grows. And because of their proximity to other members of our pediatric hearing team, including speech-language pathologists and social workers, they help to ensure a continuity and thoroughness of the care your child receives.
Hearing Rehabilitation Program
Not every child with hearing loss needs a speech pathologist or education consultant, but our ability to provide those services underscores the breadth and depth of our pediatric hearing rehabilitation program.
Specifically, our pediatric speech-language pathologists work closely with our audiologists to evaluate the impact of your child’s hearing loss on speech and language development. They then help your child to learn proper speech production, including articulation of speech sounds. We are unique in offering small group (usually around seven children) as well as individual speech therapy, an approach that helps to promote socialization skills. We are also unique in having on staff two speech pathologists with the degree of specialized pediatric skills and techniques that only comes from working with hearing-challenged children over many years.
What our hearing rehabilitation program has helped to demonstrate is that if the process starts early enough and has the right pieces in place, there is a good chance your child can learn to develop normal or close to normal speech and language abilities.
Early Intervention Program (EIP)
Children under three and their families may be able to take advantage of our Early Intervention Program. Funded and regulated by the New York State Department of Health, and in Manhattan by the New York City Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Alcoholism Services, EIP provides speech pathology and audiology services to eligible children at no cost to parents. If your infant or toddler is developing slower than normal in one or more areas – such as speech, motor function or physical development (including hearing or vision) – they may be eligible for this program.
The Ear Institute is authorized to serve children from the five boroughs of New York City, and to assist in referrals to EIP statewide. We can provide your child with a free evaluation (in your native language) to determine eligibility for EIP.
We have built our Early Intervention Program into one of the most robust programs of its type anywhere, offering a range of services that no other hospital-based program can match. We have especially geared our program to parents, helping them to better understand their child’s auditory problem and what they need to do on a regular basis at home to enhance their speech and language development.
Parents are also the primary beneficiaries of another important resource available to them through the Ear Institute of New York Eye and Ear Infirmary: an educational consultant. Often bewildered and overwhelmed upon learning their child has a hearing disability, parents find that our educational consultant serves as an important advocate for them. This may mean acquainting them with and helping them to secure government-funded special education services, placements and equipment. In New York City, for example, these resources may include the services of a specially trained teacher (part of the city’s Hearing Education Services) who is qualified to go into your child’s classroom and work alongside him or her, as well as their teacher to make sure they understand the nature and impact of the child’s hearing loss on their learning process.
Your school-age child may also be eligible for an FM system in the classroom. This consists of a microphone the teacher wears, electronically connected to your child’s hearing aid or cochlear implant, thus bypassing ambient noise in the classroom and optimizing the student’s access to sound.