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Getting the help your child needs

Parent & Child

As a parent, you have the opportunity to be involved in the professional care your child receives. You should expect very open communication with all professionals involved, and you should feel comfortable asking any questions at all and only settle for explanations that are in terms you clearly understand. The management of a child's hearing loss poses a significant challenge to the hearing healthcare professional. It is an ongoing process that may involve some trial and error in the beginning until the best strategy is found. The final strategy – a combination of amplification type, communication method and training, teaching method, etc. – will be that which gives your child the best sound and the best opportunities for communication and learning. In short, the goal is maximum quality of life. And with the technology and skills available today, you and your child can expect a lot!

Amplification of sounds is your hearing impaired child's key to communication with the hearing world. In order to give your child optimum auditory stimulation, amplification should be implemented soon after diagnosis. Of course, amplification does not reverse the hearing loss, but it enables your child to hear sounds that otherwise would be too soft to hear. There are two forms of amplification:

Hearing aids

The use of hearing aids enables your child to utilise his or her remaining hearing ability in order to optimise the perception of sound. Hearing aids provide amplification and special sound processing to help give your child an optimum representation of sounds that are found in a normal environment.

Cochlear implant

The cochlear implant is a miniature device that enables children with profound hearing loss to perceive sound. The device includes an array of electrodes implanted within the cochlea of the inner ear. The electrodes generate electrical activity that is used to directly stimulate the auditory nerve. The auditory nerve then passes this information along to the hearing centre of the brain. Because the implant is inserted within the inner ear, the implant inadvertently destroys any remaining sensory cells, or "hair" cells, of the inner ear. However, since children with bilateral profound hearing loss have no or very few inner hair cells, the elimination of these few remaining inner hair cells is warranted by the amount of hearing that will be provided by the cochlear implant.

Thus implantation is usually only recommended for children with profound hearing loss in both ears that have shown little prior success with hearing aids. Cochlear implantation can be a good alternative in this situation.

The implantation rarely takes place before the child is 18 months old. Candidacy for a cochlear implant is also highly scrutinised.

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.