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Hearing aids

Child Hearing Aid

Fitting children with hearing aids – especially young children – offers a multitude of challenges to the paediatric audiologist. Ongoing changes in physiological characteristics, in psychological maturity, and in language skills require a high degree of flexibility in both audiological procedures and equipment in order to ensure the optimum outcome.

The hearing aid fitting process is very flexible, adaptable and ongoing. Recent technology has expanded the range of hearing aids that are available on the market, and advances in technology have increased the potential for a successful fitting. The choice of hearing aid will depend on characteristics that are unique to your child and his or her environment. Your hearing healthcare professional will advise you regarding the pros and cons of certain hearing aids for your child.

Once hearing aids are provided, success will depend highly on your motivation and perseverance. Your child will need to understand that the hearing aids should be worn as much as possible to ensure optimum interaction and communication. Your positive and encouraging attitude can set a valuable example.

Size

There are many sizes of hearing aids, which vary from a behind-the-ear (BTE) model, where the electronic components are mounted in a compartment which fits behind the ear, to smaller canal models, where the electronic components are mounted in a moulded shell which fits in the ear canal.

Circuitry

There are two types of circuits used for hearing aids. The analogue circuit has been widely available for many years. In recent years, however, digital technology similar to that used to produce the clear sound of a compact disk (CD), has revolutionised the hearing aid industry by greatly increasing the sound quality and fitting flexibility of the hearing aid.

Digital hearing aids

The digital processor found within hearing aids acts as a very complex computer. By using a digital signal, complex calculations can be achieved in short periods of time. Sounds can be manipulated in various ways in order to achieve a high level of sound quality. In addition, digital hearing aids provide innovative features such as fully adaptive directional microphones that make it easier for the hearing aid user to hear speech in noisy environments. The digital hearing aid is highly-adjustable so that it can be fine tuned to suit most hearing needs and provide the user with comfortable sound.

Binaural fitting

If your child has a hearing loss in both ears, hearing aids should be worn on both ears. Amplification in both hearing impaired ears - called a binaural fitting - will help provide better understanding of speech in noisy situations. In addition, a lack of auditory stimulation in the unamplified ear may cause the underlying neural fibres corresponding to that ear to gradually become less functional.

Fitting a hearing aid on an ear that has received little auditory stimulation over a prolonged period of time may not provide additional benefit to the child's overall hearing capabilities.

Colours

Many hearing aids are available in a wide range of bright colours. The reason for this is that, while most adults want their hearing aids to blend in with their skin or hair colour in order to make them less noticeable, most children prefer a bright colour to make their hearing aids cool or pretty. For most children, beige or brown hearing aids are dull.

This article is an excerpt from the book 'Your Child's Hearing'. To receive a free, complete copy of 'Your Child's Hearing', email your request along with your full mailing address to connect@widexcanada.com and Widex will be happy to send you a copy of the book.