Ms Melissa McCarthy1, Professor Greg Leigh1,2, Professor Michael Arthur-Kelly2
1RIDBC, North Rocks, Australia,
2University of Newcastle, Callaghan, Australia
The newborn hearing screening process, including the provision of family-centred early intervention, provides a firm foundation for children who are deaf or hard of hearing and their families. Research has shown that early identification and subsequent intervention leads to more natural and age-appropriate language development for children who are deaf or hard of hearing. When a family-centred model of early intervention is implemented, families are actively involved in decision making, planning and implementing sessions, which leads to a greater sense of family empowerment. However, due to the low incidence of sensory disability, and the shortage of qualified practitioners worldwide, many families do not have access to the specialized support they require. The increased use of telepractice—a method of delivering services through telecommunications technologies that provide two-way, synchronous audio and video signals in real-time—widens the horizon of service provision for children who are deaf or hard of hearing and their families.
This paper will present data from a recent prospective study examining practitioner and caregiver perceptions of family-centred practices in early intervention for children who are deaf or hard of hearing. The study design focused on a cohort of families receiving early intervention within the same organisation, either in-person or through telepractice, and the practitioners who supported them. All primary caregivers were invited to complete a self-report questionnaire examining their own perceptions of self-efficacy and parental involvement in early intervention sessions. Practitioners were invited to complete a similar self-report questionnaire, which examined their perceived use of family-centred practices in early intervention sessions. Preliminary data surrounding caregiver and practitioner perceptions of family-centredness will be presented, and the significance of those perceptions in relation to telepractice versus in-person settings will be discussed.
Melissa is a Research Fellow at RIDBC Renwick Centre and PhD candidate at the University of Newcastle. As a qualified Teacher of the Deaf, Early Childhood Teacher and LSLS Certified Auditory-Verbal Therapist, she has worked in a variety of educational settings with children of all ages. Her current research is focused on the use of telepractice to deliver early intervention services to children who are deaf or hard of hearing and their families. Other research interests include family-centred practice, equitable service provision and the impact of early childhood education on outcomes for children who are deaf or hard of hearing.