Auditory verbal therapy Early intervention Early intervention What are the benefits of an early intervention programme? The best communication outcomes for deaf children - whether spoken or signed or a combination of both - are associated with early diagnosis and early enrolment in effective Early Intervention programmes. Without such intervention, deaf children are at greater risk of leaving primary school without developing the expected standard of reading, writing and mathematics compared to their hearing peers. Deaf children struggle to catch up from their lower starting point through secondary school. The UK has one of the world’s best newborn hearing screening programmes and advances are constantly being made in hearing technology. But amplification through modern hearing technology alone does not allow for optimal spoken language development for children with hearing loss. Optimal development of listening and spoken language skills is preceded by developing optimal auditory skills. For children who are born deaf, especially into hearing families with no experience of hearing loss, skilled and sensitive early support is vital if they are to develop the language and communication skills they need to be ready to start school alongside their hearing peers. Listening is dependent upon the stimulation and development of the auditory cortex in the brain. By the age of three and a half, the human brain has completed 85% of its physical growth, a significant part of the foundation for all thinking and learning. Neuroplasticity - where the brain remains receptive to new stimuli – is most active during this sensitive period, creating a limited window during which a child can learn to make sense of sound. This means that effective early intervention needs to occur as early as possible and ideally within the first 3 and a half years. Early identification, access to high-quality fitted hearing amplification technology and beginning a listening and spoken language programme as soon as possible is essential for developing good listening and spoken language skills. Click here to see international evidence on early intervention. The criticality of supporting children in the early years was highlighted in the Government’s Social Mobility Action Plan in December 2017. Click here to find out more. A cost benefit analysis of Auditory Verbal UK's early intervention programme, published in June 2016, can be found here.