ELIJAH’S STORY – Head Start Mission Moment

Hearing loss in infancy is more common than people realize, affecting about three in every 1,000 babies. If not identified early, it is likely to delay or impair a child’s development. Hearing problems are difficult to detect by observation alone, so almost all newborns have their hearing checked with special equipment before leaving the hospital. If hearing loss is found early, the child may receive help to communicate and learn.

Hearing loss can occur at any time in a young child’ life. By six years of age, about six in every 1,000 children have hearing loss. Without appropriate screening, the condition can remain undiagnosed, or misdiagnosed, for years as the child falls further behind in cognitive, social, and emotional development. Children need to be able to hear clearly to develop spoken languages. Periodic screening during the early childhood years will help to ensure that children are able to communicate and learn.

The Head Start Program Performance Standards have requirements to ensure every child enrolled in its program have an up-to-date health status and extended follow-up care. Within 45 calendar days of a child beginning in Head Start, the program must either obtain or perform evidence-based hearing screenings. If warranted, further diagnostic testing, evaluation, treatment and follow-up plans are facilitated by the Head Start program staff for each child indicated from the hearing screening. The YMCA’s Head Start program works in partnership with the Frederick County Health Department’s Developmental Center to screen every Head Start child enrolled in their program.

This is Elijah, who failed his hearing screening 2 years ago when he started the Head Start program as a 3-year-old.   He was referred to an ENT Specialist, and after multiple hearing tests and follow-up doctor visits, he underwent surgery on July 12th, 2018 to repair bilateral mild to moderate conductive hearing loss at the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC. Elijah’s doctors are confident that the surgery will resolve the 60% hearing loss he suffered as a result of the air-bone gap in his ears. Elijah will be attending the Summer Session II of the Head Start program, and will transition to kindergarten at North Frederick Elementary in the fall.

We are so happy to share his story – highlighting the importance of developmental screenings and follow-up care that are inclusive of a Head Start program and fulfill the mission of our YMCA of Frederick County.

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