Information for Other Professionals
This is an exciting time for important new research to be conducted with babies that have been newly identified as having a hearing loss and their families. New and substantial changes in Health, Education and Social Care policy concerning services for deaf children and their families have been effected and implementation of these policies is well advanced, led by the introduction of the Newborn Hearing Screening Programme (NHSP), the Modernising Children’s Hearing Aid Services (MCHAS) and the DfES funded programme ‘Early Support’ (ES). This is giving rise to significantly earlier identification of deaf children than ever before, followed by early support initiatives for babies, infants and their families.
However, we do not currently have a full understanding of the links between what happens after identification of deafness and outcomes in later life; that is, we do not have a robust evidence base upon which to make recommendations to families and their support services about the type and extent of support which works best for individual deaf children.
Aim of the research
The aim of this research is, having monitored key outcomes for deaf children and families, to relate these to specific interventions. Families of children identified by the NHSP as having a 40dB or greater bilateral hearing loss will be invited to participate. The key outcomes to be monitored are language, communication, play and social behaviour and motor and physical development, using the parent-led Monitoring Protocol (ESMP), developed as part of the DfES funded programme ‘Early Support’. Also, the study will measure the type and extent of support and intervention, including family functioning and relate these to outcomes. From this it will be possible to disseminate more robust information upon which parents may make informed choices and services may base their improvements in provision so that early outcomes are likely to be improved and the social exclusion of deaf children reduced. It is also possible that the research will lead to the later development of a national database of outcomes for deaf children and their families that can be used as a valuable resource for families and professionals.
In summary, the research consists of three strands:
1. Children’s Development will be assessed using the ESMP and a standardised BSL version of the MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventory for families using BSL.
2. Family Functioning will involve an assessment of a subset of 40 of the families to evaluate various aspects of home life in finer detail. This will be conducted via questionnaires and semi-structured interviews during home visits by a research team member.
3. Services will be asked to provide details about the input they give to each of the families in the study.
This is an exciting project and we will be keeping all involved parties regularly updated about it.