My child needs hearing aids. What now?
After your child has been diagnosed with a hearing loss, the process of arranging hearing aids can seem complicated. What kind of hearing aids are available for children? How do they work? How often do they need replacing?
We’re here to give you the answers. Here’s what to be aware of when it comes to hearing aids, from fitting to servicing and everyday wear.
The first of many
Since your little one isn’t finished growing (and won’t be for some time) this is unlikely to be the only pair of hearing aids they’ll ever have. Not only will their ears get bigger but their hearing needs can change as they get older. This means their device will need to change too. Think of it like getting new glasses or switching to a newer mobile phone. With every change, we will work with you to make sure your child's technology is appropriate.
The first thing following diagnosis is meeting with an audiologist, who will recommend and fit the most effective type of hearing aid for your child. This involves making a mould of your child’s ear, using soft putty to ensure that it fits perfectly and won’t be finnicky for you or your child to put in and take out. As your child gets older and the shape of their ear changes, you’ll need to do a new mould each time.
Once the mould has been sent back from the manufacturer, it’s time for your child’s first fitting. The process usually takes between 60 to 90 minutes. Your audiologist will then program the hearing aids and adjust them to your child’s listening needs. The fitting will finish with your audiologist showing you and your child how to fit and use the hearing aid, as well as giving helpful advice about adjusting to the new device.
Getting the right device for your child is essential for their language and speech development. After understanding what you and your child need, your audiologist will recommend the most suitable device option for your child. With all the different options on the market, it can be tempting to shop around and look at all that are available. Hearing aids come in two broad styles: behind-the-ear (BTE) and in-the-ear (ITE). BTE styles are the most appropriate for babies and young children as they provide better fit and quality during this stage of their life. ITE, while less noticeable, are more suitable for older children and young adults whose ears are large enough to fit this style of aid. As your child gets older and their listening needs change, consult with your audiologist about whether the switch to ITE is best for your child’s hearing loss.
Wearing the aids at home
Now your child is equipped with their hearing aids. To ensure you both have an easy time adjusting to the new aids here are some things to remember:
Your audiologist will show you how to properly check the aids. Do these checks every day and, as they get older, walk your child through the process so they can do them on their own in the future.
Hearing aids should be worn all the time when your child is awake as their speech and language development depends on their exposure to sounds
Audiologists can provide useful info and tips on the best way to introduce your child to new sounds and get them used to wearing the device
Hearing aids are relatively unobtrusive and can be worn for normal childhood activities except for in the bath, shower and when swimming.
After your child has worn the hearing aids for a few weeks, it’s important to revisit your audiologist to make sure your child is adjusting to the hearing aids well. They’ll test your child’s hearing to find out if further adjustments are needed. Make sure to be up front and honest during the follow up process. As you will have been around your child during the adjustment period, any feedback you have is vital in making sure the device is properly fine-tuning the device. This process will generally involve your audiologist asking for any observation you’ve noticed about your child’s hearing since getting the device (e.g. do they respond when spoken to, do you ever need to re-adjust the device, etc). You may be asked to keep a diary of your observations, or to answer a questionnaire about your child’s aid use.
Ears will grow, listening habits will change and new research will come out, and with that a new hearing aid for your child. Continue getting your child tested and refitted for new hearing aids as needed. As time goes on, your audiologist will gather more information about your child’s hearing and the hearing aids will be fine-tuned accordingly. Regular testing and follow up appointments ensure your child’s hearing loss is being treated effectively and that they are always getting the quality they need out of their device. Your audiologist will also talk to you about other technology that may be helpful at various stages of your child's life.
Our paediatric audiologists are specially trained on the care and management of hearing loss in children. If we discover a hearing problem, we’ll work with you to ensure your child has all the support they need to get on with being a kid! For more information about the services available for children with hearing loss, contact us today.