It takes a village to help a child with hearing loss, and there are many people who will help you and your child along your journey. Here is a list of some of the professionals you may meet or work with.
Otolaryngologist: An otolaryngologist is an ear, nose, and throat specialist. They have an MD degree. He or she will look in your child’s ears to rule out any medical problems that could be causing the hearing loss, which sometimes can be corrected surgically or with medication. They also provide medical clearance for your child to wear a hearing aid, which is required by the FDA before a fitting can take place.
Audiologist: An audiologist is a specialist in hearing and balance disorders. They have a masters degree in audiology (MA or MS) or a Doctor of Audiology degree (AuD). They perform hearing evaluations and counseling on test results. They are also specialists with amplification (hearing aids, cochlear implants, etc) and assistive listening devices. They will recommend and fit appropriate amplification to your child. An Educational Audiologist works for the school system. He or she will help monitor your child’s progress in the classroom and will ensure amplification is working correctly.
Speech-language Pathologist: A speech-language pathologist is a specialist in speech and language disorders. They have a masters degree in speech-language pathology (MA or MS). If your child has hearing loss, he or she may need help learning and practicing the specific sounds of speech, even after a hearing aid or cochlear implant has been fit. They will provide therapy for your child if needed and will also follow their progress to ensure that important developmental milestones are being met.
Special Education Specialist: A special education specialist is a certified teacher in your school or school district who works with children with special needs. He or she will be responsible for working with you on your child’s academic placement and progress. They will also help to create an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) if special services or accommodations are necessary for your child in school. This plan will be updated annually as your child gets older. They will also work with your child’s classroom teachers once your child is mainstreamed to ensure they are meeting goals set for them.
Genetic Counselor: Certain genes in the human genome can sometimes cause hearing loss. A genetic counselor has a master’s degree (MA or MS) in genetic counseling. They will look at your family history and the type of hearing loss your child has. They will explain how genetics can cause hearing loss and what is involved in genetic testing. They will help you decide if this testing is right for you. After testing is complete, they will review the results with you and discuss your options.
Your child’s pediatrician and classroom teacher are also important parts of the team!