December 18th, 2010 by Elizabeth | Tags: Audiology, Babies, Children, Cochlear Implant, Hearing Aids, Life, New Parents, Tips and Tricks | 1 Comment »
One of the wonderful benefits of newborn hearing screening is that children, some as young as just a few weeks of age, are being fit with hearing equipment that gives them auditory access to grow their auditory brain from (almost) the start! The downside, however, is that is can be difficult to keep the hearing aids, Baha, or cochlear implant(s) on a very small child. As children grow and become active preschoolers, it may not get easier! However, it is crucial that children wear their equipment and receive auditory access all waking hours if the goal is to help the child become a listener and oral communicator. The outcome is well worth it… but how do you get there without driving yourself insane? How do you allow your child to be a child while protecting the thousands of dollars of equipment on his head?
Kay Powell’s archived Listen-Up website has an excellent list of suggestions titled “If Your Child Won’t Keep Their Hearing Aids In…” Some of the most popular solutions are the lightweight “pilot caps” from Hanna Andersson, wig tape, or add-on devices offered by hearing aid/CI companies that are specifically for pediatric users (ask your audiologist or company representative). Once you’ve figured out the best way to keep the devices on your child’s ear, it’s wise to take the extra step and attach them somehow to the child’s clothing. This is somewhat like the pacifier holder pins sold for babies. Using the device ensures that, even if the cochlear implant comes flying off the child’s ear on the playground, it can’t get much farther than the tether holding it to the child’s shirt. It’s easy to create your own retention device, but there are also some sold by several companies which are listed on the Listen-Up page. Baha devices, which snap onto a softband, can also be attached by a small line of fishing wire to the headband in case they come un-snapped.
Make sure to label your child’s equipment, too. A small label maker, or even permanent-marker initials, can be used to mark the equipment, with a card listing full information (child’s name, parent phone/address, surgeon and audiologist contact info) should be kept the in equipment case. To prevent loss at school or daycare, take pictures of all of the pieces of your child’s equipment, both assembled and disassembled, and distribute it to teachers, as well as custodians and groundskeepers — they can be your biggest allies in the unfortunate event that a piece is lost on the playground! Make sure everyone knows what the equipment is, what it looks like, and its importance so it is not thrown out like another small plastic piece of junk or forgotten piece to a toy.
Keeping equipment looking pristine can be an uphill battle with teethers, rough-and-tumble kids, and the wear and tear of everyday life. While it’s nearly impossible to keep things “perfect,” using covers sold by the manufacturers, or skins sold by outside vendors, can help to minimize the damage. These two previous CIO posts offer some suggestions for decorating equipment that can also double as protection for the body of the device:
It’s not easy, and it’s not always fun to be putting hearing aids back on a million times a day. But focus on the goal — if you wish for your child to become a listener and fully participate in a listening, speaking world, you must give him the tools (the auditory access) to do so. You can do it!