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Health Care Professionals

Read this page to learn about the different kinds of health care professionals you might meet.

How to work with doctors

  • You know what's best for your child.
  • Make your own decisions. Don't let doctors make them for you.
    • Some doctors have strong ideas about how to work with deaf children. But you are the expert on what your child needs.
  • Learn all you can about deafness.
    • Read books and articles about deafness.
    • Talk to parents of other deaf children.
    • Get in touch with organizations for children with hearing loss, like the American Society for Deaf Children.

The doctors you may meet
As your child grows, you may work with many different doctors. Click on the link below to read more about each one:

Drawing of a starTips for Working with Doctors

  • Ask for an interpreter when you make your appointment. Tell the secretary what kind of interpreter your child needs. Does your child need a sign language interpreter? Or does he need an interpreter for another language?
  • Ask for a quiet, well-lit room. In a well-lit room, your child can see the speaker's face better. This will help him to understand better, too.
  • Ask the doctor to face your child when he talks. Ask him to not cover his mouth, and to speak slowly.
  • Ask your doctor to explain what he'll be doing if he has to cover his mouth. Your doctor might have to put on a mask to protect your child from germs.
  • Ask the doctor to write or draw pictures to explain things. If your child can't understand what he says, a picture may help.
  • Ask your doctor for help with assistive listening devices. For example, if your child uses a personal FM system, ask your doctor to wear the microphone.

Audiologist
An audiologist looks after your hearing. Try to find a pediatric audiologist for your child. A pediatric audiologist works with children.

Here's what the audiologist may do for your child:

Learn more

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Educational Audiologist
An educational audiologist (eh-jew-KAY-shun-al AW-dee-AW-lo-jist) is an audiologist who works in schools.

What an educational audiologist does

Makes sure your child's hearing aids/cochlear implant are working right

  • Keeps track of how your child's hearing aids are working
  • Changes the hearing aid settings to fit your child's hearing loss (if it changes)
  • Teaches you and your child how to take care of his hearing aids
  • Checks your child's cochlear implant to see if it's working

Helps make sure your child can follow what's going on in the classroom

  • Can test your child's hearing and help your child get hearing aids. (An audiologist at a hospital usually does this.)
  • Gets the right FM system and/or sound field system for your child
  • Makes sure the FM system and/or sound field system works well
  • Tells teachers what they can do to help your child follow what's going on in class

Helps your child learn to communicate by talking

  • Helps your child learn to listen and read lips
  • Sets goals for what your child should be able to do in speaking, listening and using words

Works with your child's school and other people to get help for your child

  • Refers your child to people for other help he might need.
    This could be a check-up, or help with other physical problems.
  • Helps find the best teacher and classroom for your child
  • Goes with you to your child's audiologist appointments
  • Talks with doctors and other people who take care of your child about how you're child is doing, and what other help he might need

Answers your questions about hearing loss

  • Helps you understand how hearing loss can affect your child

Ask for an educational audiologist on your IEP.
Not all schools have an educational audiologist. So ask for one on your child's IEP. (An IEP lists what things you want your child to be able to do that year, and what help he needs.)

Sometimes one educational audiologist helps all the children in the different schools in the area. Or sometimes, an audiologist only comes to school when a child needs help.

Know Your Rights

If your child goes to a public school, his school has to give him help with hearing aids and communication.

The law that says so is called IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act).

Ask for an educational audiologist and list what goals you want your child to reach on your child's IEP. Click here to read about the IDEA.

Ask the educational audiologist to teach people at school how to check your child's hearing aids and other assistive listening devices (ALDs). Your child's hearing aid battery might suddenly run out in class. Or his FM system might have a short circuit. So what do you do if the educational audiologist isn't there?

Ask the educational audiologist to teach at least 1 or 2 other people how to check the hearing aids and FM system. This is very important, especially if your child can't tell the teacher what's wrong! These people could be:

  • Your child's teacher
  • The school nurse
  • The speech therapist

Learn more
Visit the Educational Audiology Association's website to find an educational audiologist near you.

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Ear, nose and throat doctor (ENT)
An ear, nose and throat doctor takes care of problems in your child's ear, nose or throat. An ENT is also called an otorhinolaryngologist.

Here's what the ENT may do for your child:

  • Put tubes in your child's ears. When children get ear infections, sometimes liquid builds up behind their eardrums. This makes it hard for your child to hear. The tubes let the liquid drain out.
  • Check your child for temporary causes of hearing loss. Your child must have a check-up before getting hearing aids. The check-up makes sure your child doesn't need any other medical treatment.
  • Order tests to see what caused the hearing loss. The ENT may order blood tests, X-rays, CT scans or MRIs.
  • Do the operation to put in cochlear implants.
  • Sell hearing aids. (Only some ENTs do this.)

Find an ENT near you on the American Academy of Otolaryngology's ENT website.

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Genetic counselor
A genetic counselor gives families information and support about genetic testing.

Here's what the genetic counselor may do for your child:

  • List the relatives who had the same problem.
  • Explain the results of genetic tests.
  • Tell you what your risk of having other children with the same problem is. The genetic counselor may also tell you what your child's risk of having children with the same problem is.

Read our genetics of hearing loss section to find out what these health care professionals do.

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Geneticist
A geneticist is a scientist who studies genes.

Here's what the geneticist may do for your child:

  • Check your child for signs of other problems. Sometimes, hearing loss is related to problems with other organs. For example, meningitis, which can cause deafness, can cause brain damage, too.

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Ophthalmologist
An ophthalmologist checks and takes care of your child's eyesight. Good eyes are important for deaf children. They need to see well to use sign language or read lips.

There are some diseases where deafness comes with problems with eyesight. Visit the ophthalmologist if your doctor thinks your child may have one of those syndromes.

Here's what the ophthalmologist may do for your child:

  • Test your child's eyesight.
  • Write prescriptions for glasses.
  • Check your child for diseases related to deafness.
  • Give your child regular check-ups. If your child has a disease related to deafness, regular check-ups make sure problems don't show up.

Find an ophthalmologist on the American Academy of Ophthalmology's website.

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Pediatrician
A pediatrician looks after your child's health.

Here's what the pediatrician may do for your child:

  • Give your child regular check-ups.
  • See if your child is growing normally.
  • Give your child his shots.
  • Help cure colds and infections that can make your child's hearing worse.

Find a pediatrician through the American Academy of Pediatrics' search engine.

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Speech-language pathologist
A speech-language pathologist helps your child speak and use English better.

Here's what the speech-language pathologist may do for your child:

  • Check your child for any problems with speaking or understanding spoken language.
  • Teach your child how to speak more clearly.
  • Test your child for how well he knows and uses English.
  • Help your child learn new words and use them right.

Find a speech-language pathologist on the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association's website.

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National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

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