Hearing Assistive Technology is Focus of Growing Child Conference

The Annual Medical Issues and the Growing Child Conference took place on March 20 and was attended by audiologists, speech and language therapists, and teachers of the deaf from throughout Miami-Dade County. Titled “Hearing Assistive Technology for the Growing Child,” the conference aims to provide attendees with tools they need to improve the academic performance and everyday functionality of hearing-impaired children.

Starting with the basic questions “What is hearing assistive technology and why do we need it?” a group of UM hearing specialists focused on how listening devices may optimize outcomes and facilitate learning at school. The conference is a collaborative initiative organized by The Debbie School of the Mailman Center for Child Development and The Ear Institute of the Department of Otolaryngology. Specialists with UM’s Barton G. Kids Hear Now Cochlear Implant Family Resource Center and Children’s Hearing Program also shared their expertise.

“It was exciting to see a multidisciplinary group of professionals motivated to learn about children with hearing loss,” said Lynn W. Miskiel, M.A., Director of Ancillary Services of the Debbie Institute. “The University of Miami Departments of Pediatrics and Otolaryngology are committed to providing quality training opportunities for our community professionals.”

Childhood hearing loss is a growing problem and now affects 12,000 children each year. Early detection and intervention are vital to successful management for children with hearing loss. Hearing Assistive Technologies (HATs) play a major role in helping children who live with various degrees of hearing loss.

As part of the conference, experts in the fields of audiology, otolaryngology and pediatrics reviewed the latest HATs and how they may be used to shape a child’s development academically and in their daily life.

“The conference was a huge success and depicted the importance of collaboration among health care professionals who work closely with children who have hearing loss,” said Kari Morgenstein, Au.D., assistant professor of otolaryngology and Director of UM Ear Institute’s Children’s Hearing Program. “We hope the attendees walked away knowing the importance and benefit of hearing assistive technology for children with hearing loss.”

Sessions covered topics on how hearing is crucial to child development, both academically and socially; how a parent or teacher can help identify the need for assistive listening technology; and implementing functional listening evaluations to determine the level of hearing loss and the options that best fit the child’s needs.

The Ear Institute is one of the top centers in the country, caring for patients from South Florida to South America and Europe.

The conference also showcased the wide range of family-centered hearing services offered throughout UHealth, where multidisciplinary teams of audiologists, pediatric therapists, otolaryngologists, and psychologists manage children’s hearing loss and communication disorders with the latest in evaluations and assistive listening devices.

“Our mission is to help educate and provide training to professionals and parents of children with hearing loss to help improve academic and overall outcomes,” said Ivette Cejas, Ph.D., assistant professor of otolaryngology and Director of the Barton G. Kids Hear Now Cochlear Implant Family Resource Center.

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