Grace: Reaping the Advantage of Early Hearing Detection and Intervention One young student at The River School stands out as a star. Now two years old, Grace has benefited from early hearing detection and intervention. She failed the initial screening at birth and after additional testing was diagnosed with a profound bilateral sensorineural hearing loss. At five months of age ... Features
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Features  |   March 01, 2005
Grace: Reaping the Advantage of Early Hearing Detection and Intervention
Author Notes
  • Mary O’Leary Kane, is the director of speech and language services at The River School. Contact her by e-mail at molearykane@riverschool.net.
    Mary O’Leary Kane, is the director of speech and language services at The River School. Contact her by e-mail at molearykane@riverschool.net.×
Article Information
Hearing Disorders / Special Populations / Early Identification & Intervention / Features
Features   |   March 01, 2005
Grace: Reaping the Advantage of Early Hearing Detection and Intervention
The ASHA Leader, March 2005, Vol. 10, 25. doi:10.1044/leader.FTR4.10032005.25
The ASHA Leader, March 2005, Vol. 10, 25. doi:10.1044/leader.FTR4.10032005.25
One young student at The River School stands out as a star. Now two years old, Grace has benefited from early hearing detection and intervention. She failed the initial screening at birth and after additional testing was diagnosed with a profound bilateral sensorineural hearing loss. At five months of age Grace was fitted with hearing aids but showed little benefit.
Grace’s parents explored options for her through diligent research. By enrolling Grace in two parent infant programs, they were able to experience two different approaches to deaf education. The family participated in the Kendall Demonstration Parent Infant Program, which is on the campus of Gallaudet University in Washington, DC. The family began to learn American Sign Language (ASL) and were immersed in Deaf culture, an experience Grace’s parents found valuable. Because Grace is the only person in their family with a hearing loss, they had no basis for making an informed decision without the benefit of exposure to individuals who are deaf and educators who believe in ASL as a primary mode of communication.
Her parents also enrolled in The River School Parent Infant Program to explore the road to acquiring oral language. Grace participated in multisensory experiences and interacted with peers with normal hearing. She enjoyed activities that incorporated tactile exposure to sound, such as touching a tuba being blown by the music teacher. Her parents learned about the use of sign language as a tool to reach the end goal of oral language. The parent infant teacher, Sarah Wainscott, made the comparison to training wheels on a bicycle-initially signs are crucial to communication, but as auditory skills and oral language develop, the necessity for sign language diminishes. At the time, Grace’s parents were exploring the option of a cochlear implant and had the opportunity to ask questions of the parent infant teacher and see children in the school who were performing well with cochlear implants.
After much consideration, Grace’s parents decided to enroll her in the cochlear implant candidacy process at Johns Hopkins University hospital. Grace underwent cochlear implant surgery on March 17, 2003 and the device was activated on April 9, 2003. Since activation, Grace has surpassed expected developmental milestones for auditory, speech, language, and social skills. Presently she participates in a classroom with 11 other preschoolers, all of whom have normal hearing. Grace readily joins in the play of her peers, verbalizing to request (“I wanna drive the bus”), negotiate (“Two minutes, then my turn”), protest (“I’m not finished”), question (“Where’s my coat?”), and share novel information (“I like to color with purple markers”).
SLP Shelley Howard-Robinson works with Grace in her classroom full-time. Throughout the course of the day, Howard-Robinson bombards Grace with opportunities to practice speech and language targets through the theme-based curriculum. Grace is highly motivated to communicate with her peers, so habilitation happens incidentally throughout the day to support her ability to hear, understand, and express information. It is exciting to watch Grace gain independence in her ability to communicate with her peers and grasp social and academic expectations. Standardized testing reflects the progress Grace is making as her receptive and expressive vocabulary has a richness and depth that is unusual for most children her age with a significant hearing loss.
By addressing Grace’s needs with intensity in the preschool years, her parents and the professionals working with her hope to see her develop to her full potential. She’s certainly off to a good start. Grace is a bright, vivacious, creative, caring, and talkative girl. We can only predict her progress will exceed all of our expectations.
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FROM THIS ISSUE
March 2005
Volume 10, Issue 3