Utilizing early intervention to improve school readiness for deaf or hard of hearing kids


School readiness can set the course of a child’s education. A new investigation examines how early intervention could improve school readiness for children who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Being ready to start school can have a major impact on how successful a child’s educational journey is. However, for some children more preparation to be ready to start school may be necessary. An investigation in Pediatrics looks at whether early intervention programs can help improve the language outcomes for children who are either deaf or hard of hearing.1 They also examined the impact of enrolling in such programs before age 6 months or after age 6 months.

The investigators used data from the Ohio Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Data Linkage Project. The data were found from linking the records of 1746 infants who had been identified with permanent hearing loss; had been born between 2008 to 2014; and came from 3 Ohio state agencies. Kindergarten records were available for 417 of those children. Readiness for kindergarten was determined with the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment. Among the children who had available kindergarten records, 385 had available Kindergarten Readiness Assessment scores.

The children who were deaf or hard of hearing and who had started early intervention before age 6 months were found be more likely to show readiness for kindergarten when compared with the children who had started the early intervention after age 6 months (33.8% vs 20.9%; P = .005). Additionally, the children who started the early intervention before 6 months of age were found to have similar levels of readiness for kindergarten as all students in Ohio (39.9%). After the researchers controlled for confounders, such as hearing loss severity and disability status, they found that children who participated in the early intervention before 6 months of age were likely more ready for kindergarten than the children who started the intervention after 6 months of age (odds ratio: 2.02; 95% confidence interval 1.18–3.45).

The investigators concluded that their findings provide support for the long-ranging effects of early intervention services on the early education outcomes of children who are deaf or hard of hearing. They also provide support for the idea that an early start to the intervention can help start a child on a positive trajectory for early childhood development, which could reduce the risk of academic struggle in the child’s future.


1. Meinzen-Derr J, Wiley S, Grove W, et al. Kindergarten readiness in children who are deaf or hard of hearing who received early intervention. Pediatrics. September 29, 2020. Epub ahead of print. doi:10.1542/peds.2020-0557

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