Session with family
The most important aspect of this program is that it presents a reference place for support, information and services for the families of deaf children (0-5 years), coming from different backgrounds, who may already know, or have just discovered, that their infant or young child is deaf, and consequently feel lost and do not know what to do. Unbiased information is put at their disposal to help them know about the possibilities and choices. Choices are also reviewed in the context of what is available in Lebanon and what really meets their needs and priorities.
The support is provided to the family by the main therapist, the support EIP team and other parents; also in collaboration with other professionals.
The program services are provided through the Therapy Sessions, with the speech therapist/early interventionist, and through other activities which are coordinated for by the whole EIP team, especially the activities which bring together the families of deaf children, such as the workshops and social gatherings. One of the services is the performance of hearing tests with the aim of reaching optimal amplification as quick as possible. Second hand hearing aids are sometimes provided, which are fitted by the hearing aid dealers, who kindly do the fitting for free.
Besides the continuous guidance (on-going general discussions, assigning home objectives, following-up for assessments, advising for referral to other professionals or for school choices, etc.), the Early Intervention Program offers parents the Support Group meetings, where they can share feelings, worries, information and experience, under the guidance of a psychologist/family counselor; trying to include other family members and/or key persons as well.
Parents come from both distant and closer areas. The ones who come from closer areas can bring their child once a week, or twice, when needed. They attend therapy sessions with the speech and language therapist/early interventionist who works with the child (type of therapy according to the choice of the family and the need of the child: Auditory-Verbal, Aural-oral, bilingual, etc.), but gives priority to the role of the family and the home objectives. Parents coming from distant areas may bring their child once a month for evaluation, and monitoring. It is important to include as many effective key persons as possible in the intervention process in order to build around the child a strong and supportive team backing up the parents, especially the mother who is usually the main person carrying most of the responsibilities in response to the child’s needs.
Occupational therapy consultation and sessions are provided by a member of the Support Team, who gives tips for parents and conducts therapy sessions when needed.
The EIP Support Team works in parallel with the Speech Therapist/Early Interventionist, making sure that the start of the journey with the child and the family is a rich and healthy one, and ensures that all the programs that should be offered in addition to the therapy sessions take place. This includes application of activities outside the therapy room, meeting with other parents and participation in workshops which are held to strengthen parents’ skills in a collaborative and interactive approach.
All parents benefit from the John Tracy Clinic sequential lessons, which are translated and adapted to the Arab Language and Culture by the LCD with authorization from the clinic. These lessons help parents in a gradual manner to enhance their child’s whole development with stress on language development, and listening skills where applicable. All families are enjoying these lessons because of their simplicity and their content which is written with a lot of consideration to the feelings of the family and the abilities of each individual child.
The LCD’s Resource Room provides intensive information in relation to hearing loss and deaf issues, in addition to provision of trusted resources through the Internet and sometimes from experts; so that answers are almost always available to parents’ questions that are related to any subject concerning their child as a deaf child and as a child.
In the year 2004, the LCD initiated a specialized integrated Nursery, which is Montessori oriented, for hearing and hearing impaired children, where all benefit from a very rich environment in all means of development with special focus on language. Few years later the LCD also initiated the integrated Preschool. As a result the LCD has today what is known as the Jip & Janneke Diagnostic Integrated Montessori Oriented Nursery and Preschool (KG1-2).
Sign Language courses are also provided, since the start of the program, for parents who choose to adopt this approach in communication, as well as teachers and other persons who are simply interested to learn the Lebanese Sign Language.
Finally, the Early Intervention Program supports parents until their child is settled in a proper school that meets his/her needs; these needs differ from one child to another. But even the child is in school, parents can still benefit from the EIP until the child is six years of age.
In relation to Early Intervention, the LCD seeks every opportunity to encourage the possibility of applying Early Detection of Hearing Loss in Lebanon, for the important reason that, for an effective early intervention to take place, hearing loss should be detected the earliest possible.