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Posted on Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Getting Kids to Use Hearing Aids

Helping kids with hearing loss use hearing aids can be like this merry-go-round.

It is as important to have your child use hearing aids as it is to have them uses glasses to correct faulty vision. Hearing loss and the myriad of condition associated with untreated hearing loss can spiral into bigger problems if not corrected early. Studies show the use of hearing aids by kids with hearing loss, even unilateral hearing loss, is important to keep the mind active, results in better self-esteem, and helps children achieve developmental markers. So how do you get your kids-- baby, child, or adolescent to use hearing aids?

Getting Kids to Use Hearing Aids

Create Goals: As with adults adjusting to wearing hearing aids can be difficult. Children need to work up to having them on for longer periods of time and work up to the steps necessary to be more independent with them. If a child is just starting out using hearing aids don't expect them to be able to wear them all day. Help them get used to the aids by letting them wear them for longer and longer periods. And have them use their hearing aids in situations with less background noise. Restaurants in particular can be a difficult listening environment. Help children keep track of hearing aid achievements and goals in regards to self-advocacy and independence.

Keep Them Engaged: A child that is engaged with music, conversation, or a communication activity is more likely to forget about their hearing aids and to begin to internalize the benefits of wearing hearing aids. Hard of hearing people have many skills and are more adaptable than the average person. Helping your child to learn these communication skills will give them a lifetime of independence. Communicating with a child who has hearing loss is a challenging process, but as you reach out to them, they adapt and learn how best to communicate with others.And don't be shy about getting family members to help out. Here's a great pdf from Dr. Neil Bauman of the Center for Hearing Loss Help to hand out to family members. Remember sound stimulates the brain and helps a child to better understand their world, so keep them listening.

Deficits in language skills and the average cognitive markers for childhood development are problems that can be worsened if a child does not use his or her hearing aid.

Use Accessories/Younger Children: Hearing aids are advanced technologies that cost money. Obviously, you don't want your child to lose them, but what if he or she is not old enough to understand the impact of removing it? For younger children and toddlers Huggie Aids, can keep hearing aids in place or try tying a bit of fishing line from the aid to a pin attached to the back of their shirt.

Use Accessories/Older Children: Assistive listening devices in the classroom can make an older child's experience with hearing aids less frustrating. Normal classroom acoustics can inhibit listening technologies. Older children, adolescents, can be embarrassed about using an ALD in the classroom. In this case, get the teacher on your side in helping to make ALD use inconspicuous and have your child help pick out the system that they are most comfortable using.

Educators at MSU, point out, “numerous studies have shown improvement in attention, understanding directions, classroom participation and school behavior” when fitted with a hearing device.

Social Contact: Children with hearing loss, from infants to adolescents, have been shown to do adjust better to their hearing loss and wearing hearing aids when they are around others who have hearing loss. Children like to fit in, feel like everyone else, so the idea that they might seem different by using a hearing aid can be frightening. Once children realize that there are many people like them with hearing loss, they will begin to become more at ease with their hearing challenges and the importance of wearing hearing aids.

Patience: As the Better Hearing Institute notes, “There is a common misconception that hearing aids are the "cure all" for hearing loss. In reality, improving communication involves a long term rehabilitative process in which the hearing aid is only part." Taking time to learn to properly communicate with hearing aids is especially true of children with hearing loss. Make sure to include techniques like pausing to allow your child to process what you've said and allowing a suitable amount of time for them to answer before repeating yourself. As quoted on Baby Hearing.org, "Parents, siblings, and relatives have to get down on the level of this child and put themselves in his shoes and not always expect quick results."

Stay Involved: Using hearing aids has been shown to improve self-esteem, but that isn't to say children with hearing loss won't experience bullying. In fact, kids with any kind of disability are more likely to be bullied. That's why it's best to stay involved with your child's school, keep up on weekly activities, and begin communication with the teacher. As one parent on Babyhearing.org pointed out, "You have to intercede on their behalf more, because their 'disability' isn't obvious." Here is an article on children and bullying that might also help.

As Clarke Schools points out on their website, "Talk to your pediatrician or audiologist about hearing aids for your child sooner rather than later." Children learn from everything in their environment, so making sure they have as much auditory stimulation as possible will ensure that they have a wider balance in their daily experiences.

If you'd like to learn more, see your hearing health provider. If you need help finding a hearing health provider click HERE to be connected with the largest network of trusted hearing health professionals in the nation!

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