Managing Hearing Loss in Children
There are different options to help manage your child's hearing loss. You will work with your child's health care provider to find the best treatment for your child. A team of trained specialists will also help you and your child deal with challenges that may come up.
Your child's health care team
Your child's care team will include some or all of these key members:
- Audiologist. A specialist who tests for and identifies hearing problems. He or she also helps find solutions for hearing loss, such as hearing aids and other devices.
- Otolaryngologist or otologist. A health care provider who diagnoses and treats possible problems of the ear.
- Speech/language pathologist. A professional who identifies and treats speech or language disorders that may accompany hearing loss.
- Educator for hearing impaired. A teacher of children who have trouble hearing.
- Psychologist or social worker. A specialist who helps your child and family cope with emotional, educational, social, and financial issues that may arise due to the child's hearing impairment.
- Genetic specialist. A health care provider who works with families on genetic issues, including inherited hearing problems.
These hearing devices may help your child:
- Hearing aids. These are electronic devices that help make sound louder.
- Cochlear implants. These are surgically placed devices that help children with severe or profound hearing loss.
During speech therapy, the speech pathologist will likely:
- Diagnose communication problems your child may have.
- Educate you, your child, and your family about the child's communication skills.
- Teach you, your child, and your family ways to help improve your child's speech and language skills.
Depending how much hearing loss your child has, he or she may communicate using:
- Oral communication (speech and lip reading)
- Manual communication (sign language)
- Total communication: combination of both oral and manual communication
Assistive listening devices
There are many types of assistive listening devices (ALDs). For example, FM systems are one type of ALD. These require a person speaking, such as a teacher, to wear a microphone. The speaker's voice is then carried to the child's hearing aids, cochlear implant, or earphones. FM systems reduce background noise. They are often used in classrooms to help children with hearing loss hear their teachers. Other ALDs include:
- Infrared systems used with the television
- Smoke detectors, telephones, and doorbells that flash lights
- Alarm clocks that vibrate
- Telephones that make sounds louder
Talk to your child's health care provider for more information about ALDs.
Coping with your child's hearing loss
There are some important steps you can take to help you cope with and manage your child's hearing loss:
- Join a support group. Support groups give you the chance to talk with other parents who have children with hearing loss.
- Talk to your child face-to-face.
- Give your child sound stimulation, such as music.
- Give your child language stimulation, such as reading while facing him or her.
- Be aware of the effect of sound in your home. For example, having drapes on windows and carpets on floors can cut down on echoing. Echoes make speech harder to understand.
- Most important, treat and discipline your child as you would a child with normal hearing.