Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) stipulates that states must provide Early Intervention programs for children with disabilities/delays birth to age three and their families. Once a child qualifies (criteria vary from state to state, usually, the presence of a significant hearing loss is enough to qualify a child for Part C EI services), the services he and his family receive are governed by an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). One aspect of Part C is the idea that services should be delivered in the “natural environment” of the child. Usually, this means that therapists come to the child’s home, but it may also mean daycare, a relative’s house, or another community setting — whatever is “natural” for the child and the family.
Congratulations! You are the parent of a wonderful child, and, among many other wonderful traits, your child happens to have a hearing loss. Now, on top of running to school events, work, and other family obligations, you have also earned yourself a new job title: ADVOCATE.