One person, especially one professional,
is not allowed to decide what is right for your baby. Professionals
have good information and advice to offer, but a team of
adults is more likely to make good decisions than a single
person. You are an important member of the team. You can,
and should, speak up for your baby.
Generally, members of your team will
agree on the importance of your baby's needs, and a strong
team can be a wonderful support for parents.
You, as the parent
You are the first and most important member of the team.
No one knows your baby as well as you. You are there to
observe your baby's development, from rolling over to
sitting up, from standing to walking, from cooing and
babbling to first spoken words or from gestures and pointing
to first words in sign.
You will be the person who puts on
the hearing aids and talks, cues and/or signs to your
baby throughout the day. You will be the person to tell
other team members when the first words come. Other professionals,
however, know things that you are still learning about
ways to help you and your baby communicate. They can answer
your questions, and help you know what questions to ask.
Your advisor can give you information
from many different sources, so that you can make the
decisions for your child based on his or her individual
needs. You will work with your infant/family specialist
to become an advocate throughout your child's years of
development. Teachers and team members will come and go,
but you and your child will grow and develop together.
The audiologist is a very important member of the team.
This individual keeps track of the amount of hearing your
baby has, fits hearing aids, programs, cochlear implants, and answers your questions
about hearing, hearing aids, cochlear implants, and other
An infant/family specialist
When your child is three or older, this role may be filled
by a classroom teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing
or a speech-language pathologist. Early in your baby's
life, you will need a person who specializes in helping
families and babies get a good start. This person may
have background in a variety of disciplines (e.g., teacher
of the deaf, speech-language pathologist; audiologist,
special education teacher, early childhood specialist)
but must have special expertise in working with infants
who are deaf or hard of hearing and their families.
A speech/language therapist
Sometimes, your infant/family specialist is a speech language
pathologist who has learned about aural habilitation.
Most parent/infant teachers of the deaf and hard of hearing
are also trained to help deaf and hard of hearing children
begin to develop their voices and their hearing. For children
who use sign language, this team member will help you
to begin communicating with your baby as quickly and as
easily as possible.
A primary care physician
your baby needs to see the family practitioner or pediatrician
regularly in order to grow up to be healthy and strong,
or whether other physical and medical intervention is
needed, your primary care physician must approve and sign
the Individualized Family Services Plan developed by your
A school district representative
When your baby needs special services, someone with authority
to say that the district can and will provide those services
needs to be at your IFSP meetings.
If you have another individual that you would like to
be with you during meetings, you are free to invite your
own advocate. This might be someone else in your family,
someone who knows your baby well but is not usually on
the school MDT, or someone that you feel can help you
to make appropriate decisions. Whether or not you bring
an advocate is up to you.