The conversation between audiologists and parents has changed over the years. In today's digital world, many parents arrive at audiologist appointments with notes on their phone, ready to partner with their audiologists, just as they would with other health care professionals. Digitally-connected parents feel empowered by easy access to information that enables them to ask relevant questions, share concerns, and offer informed opinions about their child's condition. Audiologists find themselves in the position of balancing the need to conduct evaluations and fit technology while also providing counseling and support. Most pediatric audiologists are very busy, so maintaining this balance while maximizing their limited time can be quite challenging. Yet, they recognize that positive and supportive conversations along with excellent clinical care set the tone for an audiologist-parent relationship that will impact the child's progress and outcomes.
While many family support resources are available—some just a click or phone call away—not all resources are equally credible. As such, audiologists must direct parents and caregivers to services that align with their professional values and responsibilities. One such service is the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing's (AG Bell) New Parent Hotline. AG Bell designed this hotline for parents and caregivers of children who have been recently diagnosed with hearing loss. Even more relevant, this hotline is available in both English and Spanish.
The hotline connects parents via telephone, email, and video conference to the organization's early intervention parent consultant, Julie Swaim, who is available to answer parents’ questions and provide support, information on resources, and the next steps related to early hearing detection and intervention (EHDI) and communication options for those with hearing loss. In the past seven years, Swaim has worked in an EHDI program. As a parent of a child with hearing loss, she is fully aware of the challenges faced by parents and families in this situation. As a veteran in the EHDI field, she is well informed about the necessary steps to ensure that a child is properly diagnosed and that the parents know their communication and technology options. She also provides families with resources relevant to their situation and connects them with early intervention and/or academic services. Additionally, she has access to qualified hearing and speech professionals, whom she can contact for additional information.
With credible resources such as AG Bell's New Parent Hotline, audiologists can prioritize clinical care while providing related counseling, which can include encouraging parents and caregivers to reach out to the hotline. This resource is also an opportunity to remind parents of key messages from hearing care providers (e.g., the importance of wearing amplification at least 10 hours a day and enrolling their child in early intervention programs). Audiologists are not alone in providing care and support to children and their parents and caregivers. Help is just a click or call away.
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