Parental Perspectives Regarding Early Intervention and Its Role in Cochlear Implantation in Children
Objective: To examine parental perspectives regarding services provided to families of hearing-impaired children under federally funded early-intervention (EI) programs with respect to support of cochlear implantation. Furthermore, to examine if family ethnicity or income was correlated with use of cochlear implants.
Study Design: A 4-page retrospective survey was mailed to parents of children who received Nucleus cochlear implants.
Setting: Surveys were sent to parents’ registered home addresses.
Patients: A random stratified sample of 300 parents residing in the United States was drawn from the registration database maintained by Cochlear Americas.
Intervention: Surveys were administered after the children received a cochlear implant.
Main Outcome Measures: Family ratings of perceived bias during advisement, services received under EI and difficulty accessing such services, and family’s socioeconomic status and ethnicity.
Results: Children who were non-Caucasian and of lower socioeconomic status were underrepresented in the cochlear implant population. Parents noted a lack of “comprehensive and bias-free” information regarding communication options and technology under EI and sometimes experienced difficulty in obtaining certain services.
Conclusion: Early-intervention professionals are the common denominator for families seeking information and services because they explain, help initiate, and expedite diagnostic and treatment services. Because low- and moderate-income families may have greater difficulty negotiating the cochlear implant process, EI can facilitate full access to this intervention by those with fewer financial resources.