My Child Needs Hearing Aids - Now What?
When you’re told your child needs hearing aids, the road ahead can seem daunting. As questions and tasks swirl around in your head, the best thing to do is just take it one step at a time. Following are the first three things you can do to get started.
1. Select the Best Hearing Aids for Your Child
Your audiologist will likely have a hearing aid recommendation based on the tests used to determine your child’s amount and type of hearing loss. Your doctor will also take into consideration your child’s activity level and ability in determining the best hearing aid for him or her.
Almost all children are fitted with a behind the ear (BTE) hearing aid because its small design can ensure a snug fit for children’s ears. The hearing aid actually moves sound into the ear through the earmold that fits inside the ear. The BTE and ear mold is fitted by taking impressions of your child’s ear canals and the outer ear. Often, children can pick from a choice of colors for their hearing aids and ear molds. As a child grows, their ears grow but the earmold – not the actual BTE hearing aid – is the piece that gets replaced to accommodate this.
Remember! When your child begins wearing hearing aids, there will certainly be a period of adjustment. It’s important that he or she wears them continuously and it’s up to you to set that expectation from the start. Consistent hearing is key to speech and language development as well as bonding with you.
2. Research and Select Your Family’s Communication Methods You’ve probably been cobbling together a communication style with your child to compensate for his or her hearing loss. Now that your child will have hearing aids and will have hearing improvement, it’s time to settle on a formal way of communicating within your family and setting the stage for classroom communication.
There are several factors that go into making this decision:
· Are there any other development delays?
· What kind of educational system will your child be in?
· Is there a preferred communication method within your family?
· Does your family have access to resources and support?
· What are the short- and long-term goals for your child?
The Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing outlines the four primary communication outcomes for children with hearing loss. The following is specific for those with hearing aids:
· Listening and Spoken Language
· Cued Speech/Language
· American Sign Language (ASL)
· Total Communication (TC)
Your audiologist should have several resources for you to use in determining the best communication method for your family. It’s important to talk to others about the pros and cons of each of these options. All of the information you gather will ultimately help you find the right choice for your family.
3. Create a Home Plan
Once our child has his or her hearing aids and your family is communicating, it’s important to incorporate listening strategies into everyday activities. Here are a few suggestions:
· Get out of the house: Activities outside of the home will build language and cognition as well as help your child adapt to hearing noises and voices outside his or her immediate environment.
· Reduce background noise: When in the home, keep sounds such as music, dishwasher, etc. to a minimum to increase the focus on spoken communication.
· Pause and repeat: When speaking to children with hearing aids, they need time to process and respond so be patient and wait for their reply.
When you’re told your child needs hearing aids, it can feel overwhelming. But by taking it one step at a time, you can handle it!
This information is provided by the Georgia-based Sounds Waves Pediatric Hearing Aid Program which provides children, ages birth to 19 years, with audiology services and hearing aid devices. The organization operates under the principle that no child should be denied hearing aids due to the inability to pay. Learn more or apply now!