If you have been told that your child has failed a hearing test and will need a hearing aid, you may be wondering what you need to do next. Here are the next steps and how we can help.
Determining Extent of Hearing Loss
The first step after a failed hearing test is a complete follow-up evaluation with an audiologist who can identify the type and severity of hearing loss. They also work in conjunction with an ear, nose, and throat specialist or otolaryngologist to help determine the cause of the hearing loss. Sometimes a treatable medical cause is diagnosed and hearing is restored.
In cases where hearing loss is permanent, the audiologist will work with you to determine whether your child needs a referral for a cochlear implant evaluation or will benefit from a hearing aid.
Hearing Aid Evaluation
Hearing aids are external devices that amplify sound. Children as young as four weeks can be fitted with hearing aids. During a hearing aid evaluation, the audiologist will also discuss the following with you:
- The severity of your child’s hearing loss
- Referrals for early intervention programs to include speech and language therapy services.
- School issues and programs
The evaluation will also include information about the most appropriate hearing aid based on your child’s specific hearing loss, age, environment and lifestyle, as well as cost. Cost is typically technology-based; however, the audiologist will work with the family to determine what the best option is for the child.
In addition, your audiologist can recommend streaming devices that couple to hearing aids and allow the child to stream music, TV, telephone calls, computers, etc. wirelessly to their hearing aid devices. The hearing aids are digital and can be adjusted to meet the changing needs of your child’s hearing.
During the evaluation, an impression is taken of the child’s ears (similar to the impression taken for braces or retainers. This will insure proper fitting molds/hearing aids.
Fitting Your Child for Hearing Aids
Most children’s hearing aids are placed behind the ears with custom earmolds that are placed in the canal and transfer sound into the ears. The hearing aids are adjusted via a computer and set for that child’s particular hearing loss based on each ear’s individual prescriptive needs.
Hearing aids for children have a 30-day trial period. Continued follow-up will ensure that the hearing aids are providing appropriate benefits to the child and are in good working order. As your child grows, new earmolds will be needed to insure a good snug fit and adjustments will need to be made with any changes in hearing status.
Hearing impairment is the most common birth defect in the United States. The National Institute on Deafness and Communicable Diseases estimates that two to three of every 1,000 children are born with a hearing impairment in the United States. Children with hearing loss are at risk of developing language and communication difficulties and can have problems with academic, social and emotional development.
While it's never too late to resolve issues your child may have with his or her hearing, the sooner a child's hearing loss is addressed, the better.