How will I know if my child's hearing aids are effective?
You might wonder whether your child's hearing aid is working correctly, especially if they are too young to tell you. Luckily, there are plenty of ways you and your audiologist can check.
If you want to ensure your child is getting every benefit, there are procedures to find out how well your child is hearing with their hearing aids. Some use sounds or speech information during your hearing clinic, while others investigate how your child is hearing in daily life.
If your child is not hearing as well as expected, your audiologist will discuss further investigation and any changes or recommendations with you.
At the audiologist clinic
Speech Perception Testing
Speech perception tests can be used to investigate how clearly your child can hear or understand sounds, words or sentences. This can be done in quiet or noise and can give a more comprehensive picture of your child’s listening ability with the hearing aids. Hearing Australia audiologists use a range of formal speech materials depending on your child’s age and linguistic skills.
Aided cortical assessment (ACA)
ACA is a relatively new way to test what babies can hear with their hearing aids. Three small sensors (electrodes) are attached to the surface of your child’s head with surgical tape and gel. Speech sounds are presented at a conversational level while your baby is wearing their hearing aids. Your baby sits or lies quietly, facing a loud speaker that plays specially adapted speech sounds.
This procedure, available at some Hearing Australia centres, is only appropriate for children aged six or above, with a severe or profound hearing loss. Your child listens to a simple story recorded on video. They are asked to compare speech as it is amplified in different ways through the hearing aid and to say which sounds best. Their hearing aids can be adjusted to match their preferences.
Sound field evaluation (or aided thresholds)
Sound field evaluation is a hearing test taken while listening to sounds through the hearing aids. Using a speaker instead of headphones, the audiologist records the softest sounds your child responds to with their hearing aids. The thresholds are compared to target thresholds from the NAL-NL2 procedure, or unaided thresholds converted from other test measurements. This procedure was common before the development of real-ear measurement procedures and digital hearing aids. However, it is time-consuming and has limitations. It is now mostly used for assessing devices such as bone conductor aids and cochlear implants that cannot be tested using real-ear measurements.
Finding out how your child is hearing in everyday life
Gathering information from carers and teachers lets you understand how your child hears and functions in the real world. It's helpful in finding out if your child accepts the aids and wears them comfortably. It gives you a more complete picture of your child’s aided hearing abilities and any particular listening needs.
Asking for parent and teacher opinions
Feedback from you and/or your child’s teacher is invaluable in finding out if the hearing aid fitting is effective. Your audiologist may use formal questionnaires and diaries or simple discussion to gather this information. This information may also identify specific listening needs that can be addressed, either through technology and/or through programming adjustments to your child’s aids.
Asking your child’s opinion
Your child may be able to tell the audiologist what they think about the sound of their hearing aids. If there are problems, it can sometimes take time to work out exactly what adjustments should be made, but your child’s feedback is valuable and is always taken into consideration. As your child gets older, they spend more time at school and other activities away from the family. At this age, information from your child may also highlight their need to manage some aspect of aid use themselves; for example, by having the control to change programs, or to adjust volume in certain situations.