What Happens After Your Child is Diagnosed With Hearing Loss?
Being told your child has some degree of hearing loss can leave you feeling overwhelmed, but knowing what comes next can help you get organised and make a plan of action for your child and family. After diagnosis, there are a few basic steps that will enable your child to have the best quality of life possible. Here’s an overview of what happens after diagnosis:
Hearing aids can do much more than simply amplify sounds. If your child only has difficulty hearing certain sounds, such as high-frequency sounds, hearing aids can be used to alter high-frequency sounds as they enter your child’s ears, allowing them to hear sounds they previously could not. Hearing aids can also be used to fade out background noise, allowing your child to focus on and hear conversations.
You’ll want your child to be fitted for appropriate hearing aids as soon as possible after diagnosis, and this involves having impressions taken of your child’s ear canals. These impressions ensure the earmolds, which are the part that fit in your child’s outer ears, fit securely. This is vital as the earmolds prevent external noise from leaking into your child’s ears and interfering with the sounds delivered by the hearing aids.
Once the impressions are taken, your child’s custom-made earmolds will be fitted with amplifiers and they’ll be given the opportunity to select the colour of their hearing aids. You will then have a fitting appointment with your child’s audiologist to ensure the hearing aids are comfortable and programmed to perform optimally for your child.
If required, your child will also be referred for supportive therapy, such as aural rehabilitation or speech and language therapy, to help them adjust to wearing hearing aids, improve pronunciation and meet developmental milestones. Your child can also be referred to a counsellor or child psychologist, if necessary. This may be helpful if they are having a particularly tough time adapting or if they’ve experienced any sort of bullying or social exclusion as a result of their hearing difficulties.
Life at Home
If your child is very young or non-verbal, you’ll need to check their hearing aids are working every day and clean them regularly. You’ll be shown how to do this, and you can purchase a hearing aid stethoscope, which can be useful for determining if there’s any muffling of sound or feedback that can occur when hearing aids get wet.
It will likely take your whole family time to adjust to life with hearing loss, but try to keep the atmosphere at home upbeat and relaxed. This can help prevent your child feeling like a burden and help any siblings understand their life at home doesn’t have to change.
You’ll be invited to attend follow-up appointments at your local hearing clinic. These appointments are particularly important for children as their ears are still growing, so their hearing aids have to be adjusted on a regular basis. Follow-up appointments also allow you to discuss any concerns and assess the effectiveness of any supportive therapy your child has been undergoing.
Having a child with hearing loss can require an extra commitment of time and energy, so it’s important to take time for yourself whenever possible. If you’d like to speak to other parents in a similar position, consider going along to a local parent support group.