Having a child diagnosed with hearing loss can be a scary and sometimes overwhelming experience. Fortunately, modern hearing aid technology can often provide substantial relief from the effects of hearing loss. However, wearing hearing aids can present challenges of its own, especially for young users. The following information on kids and hearing aids will help you learn what to expect, how to ensure the best results for your child, and how to address bullying.
Hearing Loss in Children and Hearing Aids
Around two in every thousand children has some form of hearing loss detectable by newborn hearing screening. Children may also develop hearing loss later in life due to infection, genetic conditions, exposure to loud noises, or medication side effects. In short, if a child in your life needs a hearing aid, he or she is far from alone.
Getting the proper hearing aids can be essential not only for your child’s quality of life but also for his or her learning. Sufficient hearing can play a significant role in developing speech, language, and social skills. Plus, it can significantly aid in learning other skills and topics.
Typically, the first step in getting a hearing aid for your child is to speak with your pediatrician. From there, you will likely need to see an Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor or an audiologist who specializes in kids and hearing aids. With some appropriate testing, you can find a treatment plan, likely involving hearing aids, that will work for your child’s unique needs.
What You Need To Know About Pediatric Hearing Aids
For the most part, pediatric hearing aids are similar to those made for adults. They use similar technologies and have similar designs. However, there are some special features you will find in many pediatric hearing aids:
- They tend to be designed to be extra durable.
- They are almost always compatible with assistive devices such as FM systems.
- Many have tamper-resistant battery cases to avoid incorrect handling by curious children.
Typically, pediatric hearing aids are available in more colorful designs than their adult equivalents. Plus, they are offered in a range of sizes to suit the needs of different children.
Why Hearing Aids Are So Important for Children
Whether you are a parent, grandparent, or other caregiver for a child with hearing loss, it can be challenging to get started with finding the proper hearing aids and treatment. However, it is essential to do so as promptly as possible. When children are young, they are going through a period of rapid brain development. While this continues until adulthood, the first three years are the most significant. Consistent language and sound input help with developing normal pathways in the brain.
As you may know, children are very fast learners of language and are more capable than adults of learning multiple languages. However, this relies heavily on being able to hear and converse. Failing to address hearing loss in children can cause developmental delays.
Caring For Your Child With Hearing Aids
Like many aspects of childcare, helping a child who is new to using hearing aids can be a unique challenge that involves learning as you go. However, you can use a few tips and tricks to ensure that the experience is as smooth and positive as possible.
Getting Used To Them
It can take some time to adjust to wearing a hearing aid. For very young children, it can be upsetting at first. Consider introducing the hearing aid while doing something fun. This can help to associate it with positive emotions. Gradually increase the amount of time spent wearing the hearing aid until they are used to wearing it for a full day.
Slightly older children will more easily understand the importance of hearing aids. However, they may find them uncomfortable or repeatedly remove them. Consider using a soft headband to help keep the hearing aid(s) in place. Additionally, hearing aids can be slipped to clothing to help prevent them from being lost.
Testing and Adjusting
From time to time, it is important to have your child’s hearing retested. Hearing aids can take several adjustments to get the settings just right. Plus, your child’s hearing may change over time. Your audiologist or other hearing care professional will provide guidance on when to have additional testing and adjustments. It is important to follow this guidance to ensure the best hearing improvement possible.
Taking Care of the Hearing Aids
Kids and hearing aids don’t always mix well. While pediatric hearing aids are designed to be especially durable, it is important to have a strong care routine. Plus, it helps to establish good habits with hearing aids early.
Make sure to check the batteries regularly and keep spare ones handy. Keep the hearing aid dry and teach your child to avoid submerging his or her head while wearing a hearing aid. Clean the hearing aid regularly. A little care can go a long way.
Dealing With Bullying
Sadly, many children with hearing aids will experience some form of related bullying while growing up. One study found that a child with hearing loss is about twice as likely to be bullied as the general population.
The first step in dealing with bullying is to identify it. These are some of the forms that bullying may take:
- Verbal: Actions such as name-calling, teasing, and insulting.
- Physical: Aggressive behaviors such as hitting, shoving, and tripping, as well as unwanted touching or removal of the hearing aids.
- Emotional: Deliberately excluding, taking belongings, laughing behind their back, or using the child’s hearing loss to harm them.
- Manipulation: Using the child’s vulnerabilities or want of acceptance to control him or her.
- Cyberbullying: Any form of bullying that takes place online.
Healthy self-esteem is the best defense against bullying. It can help to introduce your child to fictional heroes that exhibit good self-esteem. It can also be helpful to show examples of kids and hearing aids represented in the media in positive ways. Unfortunately, there are not as many examples of this as would be ideal.
It is also helpful to create a safe space where your child can talk about concerns about bullying. Try to avoid overreacting or becoming too protective. Instead, try to listen to and support your child.
Cyberbullying is an unfortunate reality of the internet age. It can be harder to notice because it often happens when children are secluded using electronic devices. Children with hearing loss are often drawn to the internet because it offers ways to communicate without hearing. Unfortunately, this can make cyberbullying even more problematic.
Talk with your child(ren) about internet usage. Check in periodically on what they are doing. If you think your child is becoming isolated or upset following device usage, ask about it. As is appropriate for the child’s age, try to respect privacy. However, you can remain vigilant and attentive.
Get Help Dealing With Hearing Aids for Your Child
Memorial Hearing provides resources and services for families dealing with hearing loss in children and adults. Learn more today about how we can help you and your family. You can contact us online or give us a call at (713) 984-7562 for more information about our practice and how we can help you or your child in Houston, TX.
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