The Center for Childhood Deafness at Boys Town National Research Hospital
"So, when babies are this young, it's really important that we get a good measure of what the sound does when it routes through the ear."
"This is basically your hearing aid listening to that sentence."
"Yes, yes, yes!"
The Center for Childhood Deafness and Boys Town National Research Hospital are internationally recognized as leaders in the field of early intervention for children who are deaf or hard of hearing.
We know that the first three years of a baby's life is an especially sensitive time for language development.
Newborn hearing screening is now considered the standard of care in the United States and in many other countries.
The research team, here at Boys Town, has made very important contributions to the technology around newborn hearing screening.
A number of investigations here have led to improved ways to measure hearing in tiny babies, and also, improved ways to fit hearing aids in these teeny, tiny ears.
"Today we're seeing that there is hearing loss in both ears and let me explain what that means."
All of that is critically important because accurate diagnosis of hearing loss and quick, and appropriate fitting of hearing aids, are some of our first procedures that need to happen for the children to take advantage of early intervention.
"What did you notice today, while we were working with Ruby, what do you feel like improved her speech?"
We have focused for a long time on family-centered early intervention models.
We work closely with the family to promote the child's development.
"Say, pull it up."
"Pull it up!"
If we go into that home 1 to 2 hours a week and we support the family in developing both competence and confidence to be the child's primary teachers, we have a widespread impact on that child.
We live in a pretty amazing world today due to technology.
It allows us to link across nations on important topics and babyhearing.org; it's had an important impact in helping both parents and professional communities.
A number of countries have translated it in their languages and their own cultural contexts.
"I would use the same language you use with her when you're changing her diaper for when she's changing the baby's diaper."
There's a gentleman in Linns, Austria, named Dr. David Holzinger, who realized, that in European nations and other nations in the world, family-centered early intervention practices were not consistent. There were some major gaps.
He invited me to lead an international consensus conference where leaders and stakeholders got together and identified 10 key principles that were based in evidence, and we knew were representative of best practices in early intervention.
That was subsequently published and is now being translated to multiple languages across the world, both spoken and in sign languages.
We built this building, the Lied Learning & Technology Center, to have distance education capabilities.
We have a team, led by Dr. Cathy Carotta that is working with providers in Guam.
About twice a year, a team of professionals from Boys Town actually travels to Guam. The providers in Guam are benefitting from learning about how to work on home visits with families, helping them develop knowledge and skills to parent a baby who is deaf or hard of hearing. They have also benefitted greatly from our audio logical services.
I think when I started here 35 years ago, I had no idea that our impact could reach well beyond our physical boundaries and support children, who are deaf and hard of hearing and their families, across the globe.
"What's the monkey eating?"
"Eating a banana."
A really gratifying aspect of this work is what we do with families. I believe that our work is closely tied to and supportive of the mission of Boys Town, to change the way America cares for children, families, and communities.
It's exciting work because we can see the impact that we're having.
"Where's the bird?"
"There it is!"
At Boys Town, this is a very innovative and creative environment where we're always striving to improve services, to conduct cutting edge research, and all of that informs our practices in ways that moves us and the field forward.
The Center for Childhood Deafness at Boys Town National Research Hospital is internationally recognized as a center of excellence for applied research, early intervention strategies and rehabilitative services for children with hearing loss, visual impairment and related communication disorders and their families.