1. What exactly does BEGINNINGS do?
BEGINNINGS provides informational, emotional and technical support to
families of children who are deaf or hard of hearing, deaf parents of
children who hear well and professionals serving those families. BEGINNINGS
uses an unbiased approach to meeting the diverse needs of families.
Our staff provides resources and referrals to parents and professionals.
More detailed information is available within this web site. A brochure
detailing our services is also available.
2. Does BEGINNINGS charge for services?
BEGINNINGS is a non-profit organization. Our services are free to parents
and professionals residing in the state of North Carolina. We also provide
literature and videotapes for which there may be a charge to families
or professionals elsewhere.
3. Why did this happen to my child?
In some cases, the cause of a child's hearing loss may be easy to trace.
There may be a family history of deafness, a congenital condition, an
illness, accident or a prescribed medication that may be responsible
for the hearing loss. In many cases, however, there may be no obvious
reason for the hearing loss. Parents must come to understand that it
is likely that the cause of the hearing loss may never be determined.
4. How can a child be tested for a hearing loss at birth?
BEGINNINGS is a strong proponent for the Universal Screening of all
infants for hearing loss. Many birthing facilities in our country have
currently adopted this philosophy. The two most frequently used measures
for testing infants are the Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) and Otoacoustic
Emissions (OAE's). Both measures can be conducted while an infant is
sleeping and require no response from the infant. The ABR monitors brain
activity (much like an Electroencephalogram, or EEG). It records specifically
the brain activity that occurs in response to sound. OAE's are a quick,
non-invasive probe measure that determines cochlear, or inner ear, function.
5. Is hearing loss permanent? Is there surgery to correct it?
Can some losses improve over time?
There are two distinct types of hearing loss, conductive and sensorineural.
A conductive loss is the disruption or mechanical blockage of the movement
of sound waves from outside the ear to the inner ear. This occurs in
the outer and/or the middle ear. Many conductive hearing losses can
be treated and eliminated with medication or surgery. There are also
occasions when a problem in the middle ear cannot be corrected. Bone
or conduction hearing aids and other assistive devices can assist in
A sensorineural hearing loss is one that occurs in the inner ear. Some
or all of the hair cells in the cochlea may be damaged or not completely
formed. In addition, it is also possible that the auditory nerve from
the cochlea to the brain may be damaged or not completely formed. This
type of loss is not reversible. In some cases, a surgical procedure
called cochlear implantation may be appropriate. Otherwise, appropriate
habilitation or rehabilitation involves hearing aids and other assistive
devices. Please visit our Assistive Technology page for more information
about this topic. As a general rule, sensorineural hearing loss does
not improve over time. Some sensorineural hearing losses do become worse
as children get older. Some "progressive" hearing losses are
genetic in nature and there is no way to stop the process. You may wish
to speak to your ENT or otology physician regarding medical technology
to slow the process. There are some hearing losses that fluctuate, although
these are not very common. Children must be monitored very carefully
during the first few years of life to determine the stability of their
hearing loss. Your child should always be retested if you suspect a
change in his/her hearing ability.
6. Will my child ever talk?
A child who is deaf can learn to speak. With the use of powerful hearing
aids and/or cochlear implant and speech therapy, a deaf child can learn
to produce speech. Some of the methods discussed on our Communication
Methodologies section focus on speech production more than others. Please
read the descriptions of the five different methodologies to help you
decide which method meets the needs of your child and family.
7. Where can my child go to school?
Typically, there are various options available to meet a child’s
educational needs. The law mandates that public schools are responsible
for providing a free and appropriate public school education for all
students regardless of disability. School districts are required to
educate students in the least restrictive environment with the related
services necessary for the student’s success. Many students who
are deaf or hard of hearing can be fully mainstreamed with few or little
related services. Some counties/states will have what is referred to
as "cluster programs”; this is where classes for students
who are deaf or hard of hearing are located in specific schools. Students
can be placed in an environment with a teacher of the deaf and hard
of hearing and deaf and hard of hearing peers and also participate in
a regular school setting. Another option for families is a school for
the deaf. Most schools for the deaf now offer different communication
options from which families can choose.
8. How can I communicate with my child?
Communication with your child should be a top priority. There are five
communication methodologies that are currently being used to teach children
who are deaf and hard of hearing. We recommend that parents learn about
these methods and view programs in which they are used. Please visit
our Communication Methodologies section to get more detailed information.
9. Why doesn't a hearing aid "fix" hearing?
A hearing aid will not correct hearing in the same way that eyeglasses
can correct vision. A sensorineural hearing loss usually involves some
degree of sound distortion because of the nerve damage that has occurred.
While a hearing aid can amplify the loudness of the sound, it is not
able to clarify speech and other sounds and to eliminate distortion.
Intensive intervention, including speech/language therapy and auditory
training, must be in place for young children to learn to process or
"make sense" of speech and other sounds. Please visit our
Assistive Technology page for more information.
10. Why is it so important for babies to have hearing aids?
Babies begin developing the skills necessary for language as soon as
they are born and possibly even in the womb. Research suggests that
babies' brains are actually "programmed" to learn language
during a critical learning period, from birth to about three years of
age. Research shows that when infants are aided early on they have the
greatest chance of developing language skills comparable to their same-aged
peers. Exposure to sound actually stimulates the development of the
auditory neural synapses within the brain. If a child is unaided, it
is important to begin using a visual form of language early on because,
for these children, this type of stimulation encourages growth of the
visual neural synapses in the brain.
11. How can I pay for hearing aids?
Unfortunately, most insurance companies do not cover the purchase of
hearing aids. There are many local, state, and federal funding programs
available. Also be sure to consider local churches and civic programs
as additional resources for funds.
12. If my child gets hearing aids, can he get the small ones
that go in the ear instead of those larger ones that go behind the ear?
There are many reasons why behind-the-ear, or BTE hearing aids, are
more appropriate for children than smaller in-the-ear, or ITE hearing
aids. Some of these reasons include: the power capability of BTE's versus
ITE's, the durability of BTE's, the ability to change an earmold for
the BTE as the child grows, the compatibility of BTE's with other classroom
assistive technology, etc. For a more detailed explanation of what amplification
is best for your child, contact your audiologist.
13. Do all children with hearing loss need to wear hearing aids?
From a proactive and audiological standpoint, all children with permanent,
sensorineural hearing loss should be properly amplified. There are cases,
however, where hearing aids may not be appropriate. Some children with
severe to profound hearing loss, bilaterally, may have a trial period
with hearing aids and find that there is not sufficient benefit to wearing
them. These children may be candidates for a cochlear implant. Other
children may have conductive hearing loss that can be corrected or improved
by surgical or medical intervention. These children may not be candidates
for amplification but need to be carefully evaluated by medical professionals.
14. At what age can a child be tested for hearing loss?
Children can be tested for hearing loss at ANY age. Many infants are
tested within the first hours of life. There are numerous testing measures
available to determine the hearing status of children of all ages.
15. Where can parents have their child's hearing tested?
Parents may ask their pediatrician or family physician for a referral
to an Ear, Nose, and Throat or Otology practice. Most medical practices
such as these have licensed Audiologists on staff, who can perform the
testing. It is preferable to utilize the services of a Pediatric Audiologist.
Additionally, many hospitals, teaching and general, have Audiology Departments.
Licensed Audiologists are listed in the yellow pages and are generally
willing to refer a child onto a Pediatric Audiologist if they are not
experienced in working with children. Lastly, the American Speech Language
and Hearing Association (1-800-638-8255 or ASHA) or the American Academy
of Audiology (1-703-610-9022) will be able to assist you in locating
qualified clinicians in your area.
16. Why does my child have to wear two hearing aids?
Research based on adults with hearing loss has shown that those who
have a hearing loss in both ears and wear only one hearing aid progressively
lose much of their ability to recognize speech in the other ear. This
phenomenon, called "auditory deprivation," may be a physical
deterioration, a psychological condition, or a combination of both.
Studies have shown that the same loss of speech recognition occurs in
children as well adults. As a result, binaural amplification is crucial
to the proper development of speech and language skills in children
with hearing loss in both ears. Binaural amplification is critical during
the early years of speech and language acquisition, as well as in the
classroom to combat the effects of noise, distance form the teacher,
and poor room acoustics.
17. Will my child have friends who are deaf or hard of hearing?
According to the 1997 reauthorization of the IDEA (Individuals with
Disabilities Education Act), the IEP team must consider the following
factors when developing a program for a child who is deaf or hard of
· language and communication needs,
· opportunities for direct communications with peers and professional
personnel in the child’s language and communication mode,
· academic level, and full range of needs, including opportunities
for direct instruction in the child’s language, and
· communication mode.
The schools must now take into consideration these factors, which include
peer interaction in the child's language and communication mode. This
does not mean that the peer will also have a hearing loss but should
be able to communicate in the mode of communication that is used by
the child who is deaf or hard of hearing. Many parents choose to have
their child in a setting where other students who are deaf or hard of
hearing are also in attendance thereby allowing for friendships with
other students who are deaf or hard of hearing to develop naturally.