Here’s everything you need to know about hearing aids for children

Nowadays, hearing aids are no longer as bulky as they used to be. They are thin, comfortable, and incorporate features that enhance a child's listening experience.

ByRaja S

Published Jul 10, 2024 | 11:00 AM Updated Jul 10, 2024 | 4:50 PM

Everything you need to know about hearing aids for children

Concerns about children’s hearing problems can arise in the minds of many parents. It is normal to think about how these issues may affect their growth and ability to engage with the world.

Thankfully, technological advancements in hearing aids promise a brighter future for such children.

Raja S, an Audiologist and Founder and Managing Director of Hearzap, one of India’s leading providers of hearing care, writes about the technology behind hearing aids and its significant advancements in recent decades.

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Evolution of hearing aids

Nowadays, hearing aids are no longer as bulky as they used to be. They are thin, comfortable, and incorporate features that enhance a child’s listening experience.

For example, Bluetooth technology enables them to wirelessly stream audio from tablets or smartphones wirelessly, thus facilitating access to educational materials and music, drama and other fun-filled activities. Rechargeable batteries provide long-term use, while personalised settings allow the hearing aid to meet each child’s unique requirements.

The advancement of hearing aids began in the 17th century with basic efforts focused on sound magnification such as the ear trumpet, considered the earliest model of hearing aids, leading to modern miniature and digital innovations in recent years.

Over the last few decades, technological advancements have transformed hearing aids into small marvels of digital technology capable of analysing sound and delivering favourable results in almost real time.

This evolution is evident in inward shrinking of designs, improved functionalities such as noise cancellation, directional microphones, and connectivity ports.

Today, hearing aids are not just necessary instruments that amplify sound; they are critical systems that form the cornerstone of individual auditory treatment, significantly improving the quality of life for millions of people worldwide.

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Real-life impact

The impact of these advancements can be dramatic, as shown by the story of Soham who was born with hearing loss. His hearing changed dramatically after he started using new hearing aids.

The moment the audiologist adjusted the hearing aids to fit his ears, he smiled and suddenly heard sounds that he never noticed before. The joy on his face was evident as he danced to music for the very first time in his life, connected to a smartphone. It is not just about music; it’s about experiencing a whole new world of sound.

Advanced hearing aids can enhance a child’s language, boost participation in school/social activities and build confidence in communication. Soham’s Story is an example of how advanced technology in hearing aids can help children improve their language skills, participate more actively in school and social events, and boost their self-confidence.

Early intervention is key because it provides children like Soham with opportunities to maximise their potential with the right support.

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Types of hearing aids for children

There are two main types of hearing aids typically recommended for children- Behind-the-Ear (BTE) hearing aids and Receiver-in-Canal (RIC) hearing aids.

Behind-the-Ear (BTE) hearing aids: This category includes the most popular hearing aids used for children of all ages—from newborns to teenagers.

They comprise a case at the backside of the ear and a small tube linking to a custom earmold placed into the ear canal. These devices are helpful for various degrees of severity in terms of hearing concerns.

Receiver-in-Canal (RIC) hearing aids: These have a shell behind the ear, similar to BTE aids. However, instead of an earmold and tube, the sound producer is positioned in the canal itself.

RIC aids are well-suited for children with slight or moderate hearing loss.

Choosing the Right hearing aid

The best kind of hearing instrument for a child varies depending on factors such as the severity of their hearing loss, age, and hearing needs. An audiologist will help you decide which type of hearing aid suits your child the most.

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Tips for parents and teachers

Parents: Be an active listener and patient with your child. Give them time to understand what you have said and respond.

Teachers: Face the students when speaking. Minimise background noise and repeat instructions if necessary.

Classroom Environments

Parents: Discuss classroom acoustic issues and seating arrangements with your child’s teacher. Ideally, your child should be in the front row, where they can easily see and hear the teacher.

Teachers: Use whiteboards and projectors in addition to vocal instructions.

Technology

Parents: Ensure that your child knows how to operate and maintain their hearing aids.

Teachers: Understand the different features of hearing aids that may affect the learners’ performance. Accommodate changes that children may need to make during the day.

Social and emotional Support

Parents: Encourage self-confidence by praising accomplishments while allowing open discussion about deafness.

Teachers: Establish a positive environment for every student. Speak openly about deafness and address incidents involving bullying.

(Edited by Shauqueen Mizaj)

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