Why is your child reluctant to wear hearing aids? – Tips for parents of children with hearing impairment

Why is your child reluctant to wear hearing aids? – Tips for parents of children with hearing impairment

– Ms. C. Anusha, MASLP (Audiologist & Speech-Language Pathologist) 

Manasa Institute of Child Health & Disability Studies, Hyderabad

Hearing aid is an electronic device that amplifies sounds and makes it audible to the person with hearing loss. For many parents of children with hearing loss, they often find it difficult to have child’s hearing aids in place. After fitting a child with hearing aids, the very first natural reaction of the child is surprise and a tendency to remove and even throw them off. Such a situation would panic the parents as on one hand, they would be investing a fortune purchasing the right and best hearing aid to compensate the hearing problem of their child and on the other hand, they fear that the child no longer won’t be able to hear and learn speech and other environmental sounds for communication if he/she is reluctant to use hearing aids. Some of the possible reasons for a child not wearing hearing aid and some tips and tricks for parents of children with hearing impairment to make the child wear hearing aids are listed below:

1.Perceiving hearing aid as a foreign object: Since the hearing aid is a foreign (new) object, initially any child might find it uncomfortable to have a device behind his/her ear all throughout the day and so keeps removing; sometimes, throwing tantrums too if forced to wear. So, parents should let the child get acquainted with the “foreign” object for few hours and gradually extend the number of hours used. Also, cloth head bands, caps or clips can be used to prevent the curious fingers from pulling them off.

  1. Inappropriate volume/loudness levels in hearing aid: As hearing aid is an electronic device, due to technical/other issues, at times it becomes too loud causing discomfort and sometimes even ear pain, thereby, making hearing aid a nightmare to the child. Hence, it is important to see if the device’s volume and loudness levels are set appropriate for the child’s hearing loss so that it is pleasing to his/her ears.
  2. Having an improperly fit ear mould : If the ear mould is not fitted properly into the child’s ear or if it is either too big/too small for ears, it might cause sound leakage. And, if it is a hard type material, it causes pain and discomfort to the child resulting in pulling off the hearing aids. As the child keeps growing with age, so do their ears and parents must make sure that they keep a check on the size of moulds and change it accordingly with the help of an Audiologist. Usually, most of the ear moulds are made of soft materials. However, parents must make sure that the ear mould is made of soft material.
  3. Having impacted wax/ear ache and infections: Some children might have a large amount of wax build up in their ear canal which might get into the ear mould tube and block the passage and thereby, transmission of sound. As a result, it causes ear pain and child won’t be able to hear properly through hearing aid, hence pulls it off. Sometimes ear pain due to some ear infections and itchy ears could be one among the other reasons. To avoid such issues, parents must do a daily check of the mould and hearing aid and clean the mould with a warm cloth or any solution, if prescribed, to make it comfortable for the child to use.
  4. Other reasons for a child/adult not wearing hearing aid: Hearing aid is an investment and most of the times, younger children, adolescents and even adults are reluctant to use them, and they end up in drawer primarily because of the traditional stigma associated with it and shying off to use it during socialization, maintenance issues (regular battery change, cleaning and handling), visible in appearance (other than sleek models) drawing people’s attention, and not benefiting the person anymore, which shows the need for reprogramming with the help of Audiologist.                                                                                                                                                                                                                 To sum it up, for whatever reasons the child is not able to use hearing aid, it is an electronic device which is bounded with technical, psycho-social, financial, medical and other associated factors in its usage that could never replace a natural human ear. It is parents responsibility to make a thorough daily check of all the mentioned aspects prior to putting the hearing aid on child’s ears to ensure that it is comfortable and is functioning properly, fulfilling the purpose of hearing, thereby, aiding communication through speech and language learning, and finally, for the child’s overall development.

A comfortable hearing aid gives a joyful hearing and a smiling face!