Kat Reading

Kat Reading

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Cochlear implants and race???

Miss Kat is attending a literacy camp for deaf elementary school students this week. She is loving it! It is fantasy themed and they are talking about dragons and knights and all that cool stuff. She is having a blast.

Well, the camp is being held at a local university that has a Teacher of the Deaf program, and we had never been to the campus before. While I was dropping Miss Kat off the other day, I saw this poster on the wall. It was a poster presentation that had been at the most recent EHDI conference. It was about minority children and their access to cochlear implants and early intervention. What I read was shocking to me!

First, it said that 35% of US kids are on Medicaid. Ok, that isn't particularly news to me. But then it said that only 13% of the kids on Medicaid get audiological services WHEN THEY ARE NEEDED! So, we aren't talking about the entire group, just the kids who have been referred for some reason. Of the reffered kids, only 13% are seen by an audiologist! WHAT?! Why?? I happen to know that audiological services are covered by Medicaid, so what is preventing the follow up?

The study said that 49% of children diagnosised with a hearing loss are "non-white", with the Hispanic children being 24.5% and African American children being 15.4% (uh, but how many are undiagnosed since they are being seen by audiologists?)

It also said that (presumely becaue of the language barrier) the majority of Hispanic familes are given information about only one mode of communication and are rarely given information about cochlear implants.

Next was the most information that was most shocking to me. It said that European American children receive cochlear implants at a rate of three times more often than Hispanic American children and 10 times the rate of African American kids! It also said that African American children, on average, wear their devices "far fewer" hours than white children....WOW...so this begs the question....WHY???


Miss Kat's Parents said...

And yes, I see all the spelling errors, but if I fix them, the aggregators will pull the post. They are killing me....

Anonymous said...

MKM, I didn't even notice the spelling errors. :)

My knowledge on this topic is strictly theoretical, but I think it might have something to do with the relationship between race and poverty. Minority groups such as Hispanics and African-Americans are at higher risk for experiencing poverty. It can be difficult to break the cycle of poverty, meaning that poor children grow up to be poor parents who then have poor children. Children born into poverty are at higher risk of malnutrition and adverse environmental conditions. Parents in poverty have difficulty accessing the services that are available to them. They may have no job, one or more minimum wage jobs, no transportation, limited ability to make and keep appointments, understand and follow through with what professionals say to them, obtaining childcare, and so on. All of that makes it challenging to comply with recommended audiological treatment. Even when parents really want their child to get services, circumstances may conspire against them.

It takes a team of committed professionals willing to go the extra mile to help economically disadvantaged families.

Anonymous the First

Anonymous said...

Adding to Anonymous the First's comments, minority groups are not as exposed to the abilities of disabled people. They may not understand that it is not simply one "treatment" for their Deaf child to learn how to sign, listen, talk or whatever the path the parents choose. It is a lot of work and requires a lot of determination. So, as sad as this is, it kind of makes sense that Medicaid does not seem to be a fan of minority children. It is up to the parents to prove Medicaid wrong!

Miss Kat's Parents said...

I assumed it had to do with poverty, but that doesn't explain many of the aspects, such as why they have significantly lower wear times. Miss Kat attends a significantly diverse school, so we see many minority children who do have access to these things and it makes me wonder how many more kids there are right here that need but don't have them. But I have seen some of these same children outside of school and they don't wear their devices. I can't even begin to fathom that, but I asked her school and they said it's fairly common.

Anonymous said...

That is because you keep an eye on Miss Kat and encourage her to wear her device. The other children are not fortunate to have parents like you to keep tabs on them. Their parents have many things on their plate -- second / third jobs, other children, worrying about bills, to name a few. Sad, but true.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous' comments - I agree. As a minority Deaf mother, my son has more advantages over many minority children as we are middle-class. Also as a teacher of the deaf, I have resources I can obtain in assisting my son with his listening & speaking skills using his CIs. Both my parents obtained college degrees and almost all of my father's side of family attended college. All of this make a big difference in awareness of cochlear implant use and development of spoken language. My son also uses ASL.

A Deaf mother