Clarification of Eligibility for Early Intervention for Children with Hearing Loss

Clarification of Eligibility for Early Intervention for Children with Hearing Loss 

As defined in the Early Intervention Operational Standards, children are eligible under the established condition category for early intervention if they have a “permanent hearing loss of any degree.”

There is no need to demonstrate that the child has a developmental delay as measured by the Battelle Developmental Inventory as hearing loss is a diagnosed medical condition with an expectation for developmental delay and is listed on the Massachusetts diagnosed condition list July ’12.

An EI Program should proceed with the timely development of an IFSP for any child referred with a documented permanent hearing loss. There have been recent concerns raised by diagnosing audiologists that some EIPs have determined that children with hearing loss are not eligible for EI because they do not have a 30% delay in language skills, which reflects lack of understanding of the relevant Operational Standard conferring eligibility for a child with a permanent hearing loss of any degree. Some families report to their audiologists that the EIP has told them that children with hearing loss are not in need of intervention until they are over 18 months of age and beginning to use language. This indicates that some EI staff may be unaware of the necessity of establishing early communication and listening skills because important neural tracks for language acquisition are laid down in the first year of life. It underlies the need for early referral to Specialty Service programs for infants/toddlers with hearing loss. Information about how to create an enriched language environment (either spoken and/or manual) should be provided to families very early on. This is not the same as generic language stimulation – the approaches for children with hearing loss are quite different.
Please address any specific questions you may have to Joan Rafferty, Specialty Services Coordinator for hearing loss: joan.rafferty@state.ma.us