Hearing loss influences all aspects of a child’s language acquisition and when left undetected can delay a child’s speech, language, social, and emotional development. A study, “Kindergarten Readiness in Children who are Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing who Received Early Intervention,” in the October 2020 Pediatrics (published online Sept. 28), found that enrollment of a child who is deaf or hard of hearing into an early intervention program before age 6 months may establish healthy trajectories of early childhood development, reducing the risk for later academic struggles. Children who enter kindergarten “ready to learn” are more likely to be academically successful in reading and graduate from high school, but the majority of children who are deaf or hard-of-hearing enter kindergarten behind their hearing peers in literacy skills. Researchers examined data from the Ohio Data Linkage Project, which linked records of 1,746 infants identified with permanent hearing loss born between 2008 and 2014, and compared these to kindergarten records. Researchers found that early intervention programs helped make children who are deaf or hard of hearing ready for school, regardless of hearing loss severity, race, or gender. The study showed that children with hearing problems who entered an early intervention program at 6 months of age or younger were more likely to demonstrate kindergarten-readiness compared to children who entered the program later (33.8% vs 20.9%), bringing deaf and hard-of-hearing student readiness into parity with their peers across the state. Researchers concluded that earlier intervention program enrollment may have a lasting influence on a child’s ability to be ready for school in kindergarten, but that additional research is needed to understand how different services and interventions enhance early academic readiness.
Source – AAP