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Early Hearing Detection and Intervention

EHDI Definition

Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) refers to a wide array of interagency, medical, educational, and community initiatives to support very young children who have been identified with hearing differences, their families, and the professionals who serve them.  Any degree of hearing loss in a young child is known to put a child at potential risk for developmental delays, especially in the areas of language development, social communication, and early literacy.  The earlier a child’s hearing loss is identified, and the child and family receive individualized supports, the better the child’s language and learning outcomes can be.  It’s all about early brain development and feeding a young child’s brain with abundant language and positive learning experiences beginning in infancy.

A national goal of Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) efforts to date has been summarized as "1--3--6". EHDI programs’ staff across the country have worked to ensure newborn infants have hearing screening completed by one month of age, follow-up diagnostic audiology evaluations completed by 3 months of age, and enrollment of children with confirmed hearing loss into quality early intervention services by 6 months of age at the latest.  Knowing how critical early access to language is for very young children, many professionals are now thinking about "1--3--6" more as a goal to complete a child’s hearing screening by 1 week of age, diagnostic audiology evaluations by 3 weeks of age, and enrollment into early intervention services by 6 weeks of age.

Incidence of Hearing Loss in Young Children

National prevalence estimates of infants who are born with a hearing loss are between 1 to 6 newborns per 1000 births.  In Minnesota, approximately 225-250 infants are reported with confirmed permanent hearing loss each year out of almost 70,000 births (about 3 - 3.6% of newborns). Approximately 3-4% of all young children receiving Part C Infant and Toddler Intervention services are reported to have permanent hearing loss.  About a third of these infants and toddlers who have hearing loss also have additional developmental challenges. A number of young children who initially passed newborn hearing screening may still experience hearing loss during the early childhood years. By the time young children enter kindergarten the number of children reported with hearing loss may double.  Continued hearing screening and follow-up supports during the preschool years are important.

Minnesota EHDI Goals

The overarching goals of Minnesota’s Interagency Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) initiatives are to ensure that:

  1. Young children who have hearing loss are able to maximize their communication and learning potential, regardless of the type and degree of their hearing loss;
  2. Young children who have hearing loss are able to begin kindergarten with communication, social and early literacy skills at developmental levels similar to those of their typically-hearing peers, or commensurate with their cognitive abilities; and
  3. Each family receives the quality individualized supports and services they need to help their child grow and learn.

Minnesota Part C Infant and Toddler Intervention Services

The lead agency for Minnesota’s Part C Infant and Toddler Intervention services is the MN Department of Education. Most Minnesota infants and toddlers who have confirmed hearing loss are served through their local school districts’ Part C programs.  Depending on individual child and family needs, Part C IFSP service providers may include licensed Educational Audiologists, Teachers Deaf Hard of Hearing, Early Childhood Special Education Teachers, Speech-Language Pathologists and other Related Services providers.

To refer a Child to Help Me Grow Infant and Toddler Intervention Services or Help Me Grow Preschool Special Education Services:
Toll-Free Phone: 1-866-693-GROW (4769) or complete the Online Referral Form (External site)

Contact Information

Kathy Anderson, M.ED., LSLS Cert AVT, Statewide EHDI Specialist MN Low Incidence Projects 
612-638-1546, kathy.anderson@metroecsu.org

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