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This one is about: Cleft-Related Deafness / Any Options?

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In answer to a question posed concerning a young cleft-affected child with hearing loss, we received this from Sue Ouellette:

Subj: Cleft-related deafness / any options?

Hi Joanne,

Thanks for forwarding the letter from Amy's mom. They sound like terrific parents!! They should immediately contact an audiologist who is certified by the American Speech Language and Hearing Association. A good starting place would be a university speech and hearing clinic or an audiology clinic affiliated with a large teaching hospital (possibly where the cleft team is located). While I'm not an audiologist, my understanding is that virtually any hearing loss can be diagnosed at any point and, of course, it is absolutely critical that diagnosis occur as soon as possible so that early intervention efforts can be started. I do not know of any reason why brain-stem audiometry cannot be done at any point in time. The important thing is to diagnose the loss, get the child proper amplification, and begin language input and enrichment efforts as soon as humanly possible.

It sounds like these parents have addressed Amy's biggest need - the need for language input. Deaf and hard-of-hearing children lose ground every day that they do not receive language input through their ears in the same manner as their hearing peers do. Language development starts, literally, at day one. By providing their daughter with access to sign language, they are giving her a way to acquire language just as naturally as hearing children do, only in a visual format instead of an auditory one. Just as importantly, they are introducing their child to the richness of Deaf culture through American Sign Language.

Please give these parents my e-mail address and also the address for the American Society for Deaf Children (ASDC). It's Sandy Harvey is the executive director. She can provide these parents with tons of resources, connect them with other parents of deaf and hard-of-hearing children, and give them a "First Year Free" membership that includes a subscription to a wonderful newsletter, the Endeavor.

If these parents want to, please have them contact me. I'd love to share the joys of parenting a deaf child with them!

Take care,

Sue Ouellette

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