From Screening to Fitting: A Parent's Guide to the Pediatric Hearing Aids Journey
Is your child exhibiting signs of hearing loss? This can be a confusing and overwhelming time. This guide will explain the steps, from screening to fitting, as your navigate getting pediatric hearing aids for your child.
Screening Children for Hearing Loss
All newborns should have two hearing screenings prior to leaving the hospital after birth. These are quick and painless and can even be done while a newborn is sleeping. If there are signs of hearing impairment, a full hearing test should be scheduled immediately with a pediatric audiologist.
Children can lose hearing at any age, so be sure to know the signs, especially in children who cannot communicate that they are having difficulty hearing. According to the March of Dimes, the following can be evidence of hearing loss in babies:
- Not being startled by loud sounds.
- The child doesn't turn toward sounds (6 months +).
- Not saying single words by age 1.
- Follows you with eyes when you are seen, but not if you call her name from out of sight.
- Hears some sounds but not others.
If you notice signs of hearing loss in older children, schedule an appointment with your family doctor who will help you find a pediatric audiologist who can help with screening, diagnosing and helping with hearing aids.
Testing Hearing When Loss is Apparent
Audiologists will use a few different methods to check your child’s hearing. The most common types of testing are behavioral: they will watch the child’s reactions to different sounds, volumes and tones. Children with underlying health conditions may require tests similar to those given to newborns that look at echo and nerve responses.
What Happens when Pediatric Hearings Aids are Required
A pediatric audiologist is the best person to assess choose your child’s hearing aids. They understand how to help children, who cannot explain what they are experiencing in the same way as adults.
Most children will get a behind-the-ear (BTE) style hearing aid. These are best for children because they work with many types of hearing loss, have earmolds that are soft and safe for children, are easy to clean and care for and have an earmold that is easy to replace.
Children who have hearing loss in one ear will be fitted with one hearing aid. Children who have hearing loss in two ears will wear two. Some people may think hearing with one hearing aid is enough but a child should have both if they have hearing loss in both ears. Not only does this provide a richer experience of hearing but it is safer; children can better assess which direction a sound is coming from if they have two hearing aids.
Fitting can take up to two hours, and there will be lots of information given. Your child will be taught many things about their hearing aid and its importance.
Continued Monitoring of Pediatric Hearing Aids
The child’s hearing will be tested while wearing their pediatric hearing aid in in order to check how it’s working. Probe-microphone testing uses a small microphone to test the amount of sound coming out of the hearing aid. This test is done frequently as the child grows and is important.
Children who can’t sit still or are too young for probe-microphone testing will have their hearing aids’ effectiveness tested using Real-Ear-to-Coupler Distance (RECD). This starts with the probe microphone but then tests the hearing aid in a special box so that the child only has to stay still and quiet for a very short time.
If you live in Georgia and need help navigating your child’s hearing loss, we may be able to help.