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EHDI: Early Hearing Detection & Intervention | NTRC: National Technical Resource Center

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Intergenerational Engagement in Early Intervention

Presented by: Susan Lenihan

When: October 15, 2020 | 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm MT


For many families the early hearing detection and intervention process impacts not only the primary caregivers but also the extended family, in particular, grandparents. For some families, grandparents and others, are able to provide much valued support in a variety of ways including practical, financial and emotional. Intergenerational support can enhance family well-being which in turn creates a more positive environment for child development. For other families, grandparents may need information and time to understand the needs of the child who is deaf and the caregivers. Grandparents and extended families may be actively engaged in services including audiologic assessment and early intervention sessions. There are also a growing number of grandparents who are serving as the primary caregivers for children. This presentation will provide an overview of research on the role of the extended family in early intervention. The session will include recommendations of ways to positively engage extended family members in the early detection and intervention process for primary caregivers and for professionals.

Obstacles to maximizing intergenerational support will be considered. Case studies will be reviewed and participants will share effective programming and strategies to enhance extended family engagement from their experiences in early intervention. Resources for caregivers and professionals will be explored.

Learning Objectives:

  • Describe the research on extended family engagement in early intervention.
  • Describe at least 5 ways that grandparents can support the development of children who are deaf/hard of hearing.
  • Identify at least 5 strategies that early intervention providers can use to enhance extended family engagement.


Susan Lenihan is a professor in the deaf education program at Fontbonne University in St. Louis, MO. The program prepares teachers, speech-language pathologists and early interventionists for careers in deaf education. Her professional interests include early intervention, cochlear implants, the role of the family in communication development, the impact of trauma on child development and literacy.