Hearing Aids And Children

March 1, 2011

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For some reason, people (adults and children) do not want to wear hearing aids, while they seem to accept glasses readily. This always puzzles me. I mean, isn't it just as important to hear in school as it is to see?

Hearing is very important for speech, learning and behavior in school. Sustained hearing loss leads to speech problems, difficulty acquiring new concepts in school and can even lead to problems when the children get off task. Children with hearing loss are often labeled as stubborn or uninvolved when they actually can't hear the instructions in the classroom. Parents also can fall into the trap of thinking that their child is just obstinate or too engrossed in the TV or video games... and not consider hearing loss as the real culprit.

We have done studies that have shown that parents, even very observant parents, may have a hard time telling if their child is hearing well or not. We think that this can be due to several factors... the child may be picking up on visual clues (a lesser degree of hearing is needed to notice a loud clanging noise than the subtleties of speech), and then there is denial, when parents wonder about the hearing, but can't bear to think that there is something wrong with their child.

The answer to this dilemma is early testing. In most cases, the tests will be reassuring and the family can relax about hearing concerns. In a small number a hearing loss will be detected. We have a sophisticated Hearing Loss Clinic which is able to investigate your child's hearing loss and offers a wide range of tests to see how to best treat your child. Early identification will help get you services for your baby. These services may include medical or surgical treatment or perhaps a form of amplification. In children who meet our strict criterion, cochlear implantation may be suggested.

At Texas Children's, we are able to test the hearing of babies as young as one day old with several sophisticated techniques, and when babies are just a little older, our outstanding audiologists have the expertise to be able to detect small hearing losses behaviorally in babies as young as 8 months of age.

We are proud of our thoughtful approach to the management of these young patients with severe hearing loss and the positive outcomes of the team approach to these children. Although many people have negative feelings about hearing aids, with parental encouragement, most kids with hearing loss embrace the amplification, acknowledging the vast improvement in their hearing.

Often children and parents are surprised to see how much they were missing before the amplification. But it's important to remember that there are many options to treat hearing loss in children, and we are prepared to discuss all of them with you in order to have the best plan for your own child.

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