Strategies for Success: Advice for Home Life and Hearing Aids
Adjusting to life with a child with hearing aids in the home can be easy if you keep a few things in mind. Consistent routines and realistic expectations help.
Use the Scaffolding Method to Develop Age-Appropriate Routines for Hearing Aid Care at Home
Children often surprise their parents by taking on responsibilities they were thought “too young” to do. But when children have a clear understanding and order in which to do things, they can take on tasks. When it comes to hearing aids, your child should be the expert. You know her best and whether or not she is ready but we encourage following this strategy to develop a child who is able to care for her hearing aids at home (which will carry over to when she is older and not at home!) and to advocate for herself.
First: Note What You’re Doing for Your Child and her Hearing Aids
If you’re doing everything now, it’s okay! All parents want to care for their children and make life easier for them. But the best thing you can do is help your child be independent when it comes to her hearing aid. To do this you’ll need to have a foundation. Chances are if you’re doing things for your child, you don’t have a set routine… you’ve likely gotten more casual and have stopped thinking about each individual step you take. That’s great, but it will be harder for your child to learn.
As you go through your day, any time you do something hearing aid-related, start taking notes. What do you do in the morning? Evening? Now look at your week and month, are their tasks that are important but not daily? When do you do them? Sketch out an outline of what needs to be done and make sure it is clear and makes sense. Have it arranged by daily tasks (morning and evening), weekly, monthly and less-regular (like scheduling your child’s annual audiology visit). Make sure you know the routine and that you’re following it as you’ve written it down.
Second: Be your Child’s Partner
Once you’ve written everything out, involve your child in age-appropriate tasks related to her hearing aids. For example, teach her how to put them in and remove them. Your child will be ready to take this on when she isn’t fighting you on wearing her hearing aids. Teach your child about charging or battery changing, storage, cleaning and battery replacement. Do these things with your child, following a routine, and encourage her to do them. Have her show you how she takes them out in the evening and cleans and stores them. Have her show you the difference between the left and right hearing aid and how to put them in. Doing things together will be less stressful for both of you and allow you to gauge what your child can handle when. It will be more than you think, sooner than you think!
Third: Have your Child Take on Tasks in Stages
If your child gets the impression you’ll do things for her or that you don’t trust her, she may not take on new tasks quickly. As soon as you find she can take out, clean and store her hearing aids responsibly and is doing it at night when she goes to her room: stop being a part of this routine. If she is really good at putting her hearing aids in in the morning, let her do it even if you think she’s too young. You can still check in and monitor.
Fourth: Be Flexible
While your ideal hearing-aid routine should be clear and followed, your child may not learn the steps well enough to be independent in order. If they have trouble with identifying left from right, for example, but zero problem inserting their hearing aids then you can help them identify, but allow them to put them in. Another important place to be flexible? Allowing your child to make her hearing aid routine hers. She may have an idea about where to store her aids or when she likes to remove or put them in. This is vital to her independence.
Fifth: Step Away from the Hearing Aids
Scaffolding requires removing yourself from the routine as your child is ready. That means trusting her while also being open to helping when she asks for it. A child who feels comfortable asking for help will.
With Scaffolding, Everyone Wins
By using this method you’re not just teaching your child to take care of her hearing aids at home. You’re helping her gain confidence, be more independent and giving yourself a break. Enjoy working with your child as a team to make sure she hears as much as possible and then watch as she becomes more responsible and a better advocate.
IL: blog about success at school with hearing aids