What to consider when choosing a hearing aid for your child
Published: 6/27/2023 3:52:37 AM
Parents naturally want the best for their children and when hearing loss is involved, getting the right tools to help them is essential.
Hearing aids come in many styles and while many believe going small is the obvious choice, there are many factors to consider when choosing something safe or suitable for your child.
Hearing aids are small and may be safety hazard for young children. Little ones fiddle with things, pull them apart or shove them in their mouth. Your audiologist will recommend safety features depending on your individual circumstances, including:
- A secure battery door that can't easily be pried open.
- Volume controls that you can lock or deactivate. Altering sound levels unexpectedly may damage your child’s hearing.
- A secure ear hook (part of the hearing aid that connects into the ear mould). If it can be removed, it may become a choking hazard.
Other things to consider
Aside from safety, there are factors that can influence hearing aids selection.
- Type and degree of hearing loss: Knowing your child's type of hearing loss means they can get the most suitable device. For example, a child with severe or profound hearing loss would not benefit from a smaller hearing aid.
- Activities your child does in a typical week: Certain activities, such as attending day care or participating in team sport, may benefit from a specific hearing aid. Talk to your audiologist so they can suggest the most appropriate device.
- Independence with hearing aid management: Some hearing aid features need to be switched on or off by the wearer in different listening conditions. Can your child understand and operate controls?
- Your child’s willingness to operate controls: If your child doesn’t want to use or be seen using any controls, it may be be better to select a hearing aid with automatic features.
- Your child’s age: This might determine the style of hearing aid that will suit them best, but remember, children should be fitted as soon as hearing loss is detected. Early and consistent use of hearing devices in children is vital for their long-term speech and language development.
What costs are involved?
The digital BTE (behind the ear) models, supplied by Hearing Australia, are high quality and take safety into consideration. The cost is either partially or fully subsidised by the Australian government.
- Fully-subsidised hearing aids: These quality hearing aids have features that provide proven benefits to children with hearing loss.
- Partially-subsidised hearing aids: These hearing aids have extra features, which may be nice for your child to have but are not absolutely necessary. Because of this, and the fact that the extra features may not yet be proven to offer additional benefits, you will need to cover the extra expenses. These include hearing aids that may be suitable for sport or swimming activities so, some families purchase these for recreational activities and use the subsidised hearing aid on a daily basis.
What style of hearing aid is best for my child?
Behind-the-ear style hearing aids are a great option for young children. This is due to a range of factors such as:
- Other types of hearing aids are too big for children's ears
- Smaller devices, such as ITE and CIC aids often have components removed to allow for their small size, which include features your child needs. For example, a telecoil may be removed so remote access with a control is no longer possible.
- Acoustic feedback (whistling) is a major risk in ITE /ITC/CIC hearing aids.
- Smaller aids are usually less powerful and are simply not strong enough for children with severe or profound hearing loss. As your child gets older, they can consider adult hearing aids that come in more discreet styles, you audiologist can advise you and your child whether switching will continue to give them the service they need.
With regular testing from your child’s audiologist, you can discuss the benefits and limitations of different options and their suitability for your child’s needs. Different hearing aid manufacturers often use different terms to describe features of their hearing aids. Your audiologist can answer any questions you have about particular hearing aids and how they may or may not be helpful for your child.
What other devices are available for hearing loss?
Hearing aids work best up close, but there will be times when your child needs to hear sounds from further away, such as in the classroom or on the sports field. Your audiologist may recommend additional technology to help them hear more effectively for these occasions.
- Wireless microphones: A teacher, coach or parent can wear a small wireless microphone that pairs to a device that attaches to the hearing aid. They are incredibly helpful in assisting your child’s hearing when far away or in a noisy environment.
- Alarm clocks: If your child is currently attending or about to start school, purchasing an extra-loud, vibrating alarm clock can be useful. They sit under your child’s pillow and come with an easy to read display, no more sleeping through the alarm.
- Stereo and television remotes (eg. Sennheiser RS195, Puro headphones, Puro in-ear headphones, Audeara Bundle): These devices allow your child to watch television or listen to their music without blowing up the speaker. It connects via Bluetooth stream directly into their hearing aid and provides them with clear audio without delay.
Before thinking about purchasing other technology, it’s important that you and your child have a good, consistent routine for checking and wearing hearing aids every day. Your audiologist can help you work out what best suits your child.