How Hearing Aids Can Positively Impact Children’s Development
If your child has hearing loss it is important to know that pediatric hearing aids can help them to hear fully and develop normally. For young children, hearing well is important to normal speech development. There are as many different types of hearing aids for children as there are for adults and that means there is one that will help your child to participate fully in school, play, sports, after-school activities and family life. The good news is that children as young as 3 to 6 months can be successfully fit for a hearing aid.
Three million children1 under the age of 18 have some hearing loss, including four out of every one thousand newborns. Once hearing loss is diagnosed the physician must determine if a cochlear implant or pediatric hearing aid is the best method to enhance the child’s hearing.
There are many different types of hearing aids developed for children
Thankfully, hearing aid technology allows each pediatric hearing aid to be adjusted specifically for the different environments in which children need to hear. Their needs are different than those of adults. For example, while an adult may spend most of the day in fairly quiet office environments, a child may spend most of the day in noisy environments like school, day care and the playground.
The best type of hearing aid for your child will be selected based on several factors:
- The best type of hearing aid for your child will be selected based on several factors:
- The type of hearing loss your child has and its severity.
- The size of your child’s ear canal and its shape (whether or not it can hold a hearing aid).
- Whether or not your child can insert the hearing aid or needs assistance.
- Other factors such as whether or not your child has tubes in his or her ears to promote drainage and prevent ear infections.
The different types of hearing aids for children have the same names as hearing aids for adults. The two most commonly used include:
BTE: Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids consist of a hard plastic case worn behind the ear that is connected to a plastic ear mold that fits inside the outer ear. These are the most common type of hearing aid recommended for infants and toddlers. BTE hearing aids are tamper proof, dustproof, water resistant, and have a tiny indicator light so parents can tell when the battery is low. BTE hearing aids come in a variety of child-friendly colors. If your child continues to wear a BTE hearing aid into the teen years, the colors are also compatible with that stage of life and are compatible with mobile phones.
ITE: In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids fit completely inside the outer ear and can be used with older school age children. The case holding the electronic components is made of hard plastic. The hearing aids are fitted specifically to the size and shape of your child’s ear canal. The fitting process doesn’t hurt. A mold is taken of your child’s outer ear canal and used to build the hearing aid to those exact specifications. This helps to create a hearing aid that will be easy for your child to wear and one that won’t fall out while they are playing or participating in sports. As your child grows, new molds for the inner part of the hearing aid will be taken to fit the size of the ear canal as it changes size and shape.
New technology is constantly developing new devices to enhance hearing for children of all ages. Devices that look like pen lights pick up conversations and sounds and transmit them to the hearing aid. They work well in a classroom setting. Other technology is working to define sounds picked up by video games, televisions and electronic devices like laptops, tablets and cell phones. Talk to your audiologist about your child’s lifestyle and hobbies, as well as your family life and schedule, to ensure that you obtain the most comprehensive and appropriate hearing support for your child.
Children’s Hearing Health