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Parents' Questions

Here are some answers to questions that parents often ask about their child's hearing and the Early Hearing Program.

Audiology

This is the first question that many parents ask. Sometimes the answers are found through medical investigation (e.g. physical examination, case history, genetic testing) but often the cause remains unknown. It is important that you don’t wait to find the cause before proceeding with intervention, as early intervention is critical for families of children with hearing loss.

 

All the Audiologists doing BCEHP testing have received special training to provide infant hearing assessment. The tests and equipment used are well researched and reliable. Several different types of tests are used together to come up with the overall picture of your child's hearing. However, if you feel your child’s assessment results may be incorrect, ask you Audiologist about the possibility of doing repeat testing or getting a second opinion.

 

What your child can hear depends on the type and degree of his or her hearing loss. A baby may startle because he/she hears something but not what you hear. Even babies with a severe or profound hearing loss may startle, not because they have heard something but because they feel a vibration or get some kind of visual cue.

 

It is hard to tell from from an early age whether your child's hearing loss might get worse. It is important to monitor your child's hearing. Regular hearing assessments will be scheduled through your local public health audiology clinic. Medical investigation may be able to determine your child’s type of hearing loss and the likelihood of changes in hearing.

 

Ask your audiologist to explain the results at each appointment. The audiologist can explain differences from one test to another. Sometimes there can be some fluctuations in hearing levels due to middle ear fluid (such as with colds or ear infections). Hearing loss related to ear infections will often get better when the ear infection resolves. We do not expect to see improvement in sensorineural hearing loss (i.e. hearing loss in the inner ear or cochlea).

 

Next steps

Early intervention services provide families with information to help their baby develop early communication. This includes listening, spoken language, and/or visual language. They can assist you during the early weeks of beginning hearing aid use with your baby. They also help you take advantage of play and home routines to encourage early learning.

 

These early months are some of the most important learning times for your baby. Babies' brains begin learning language from the very beginning of their life. Early intervention services during infancy and early childhood provide critical opportunities to positively influence the development of children with a hearing loss.

 

You have the right to information and support to make appropriate decisions for your baby and family.

We want you to know that no one specific method or approach has been found to work best for all children. You may find that some doctors, teachers, and therapists have strong opinions about the best way to teach babies and young children with hearing loss. We encourage you to work with your early interventionists and audiologist to discover what approach works best for your baby and family.

 

We understand that this can be a very difficult time for parents and that you may need some time to work through it all. We just ask you to keep in mind what research has shown: when a baby has appropriate amplification and is enrolled in an intervention program by the age of six months old, they are much more likely to keep up with their hearing peers.

 

The professionals on your team should be supporting you through this process. Many find it helpful to talk with other parents and hear about their experiences. Remember parents may be biased by their own personal experiences and may have limited experience with more than one communication approach. What works for one child may not work for another. Gather information from various sources and find out what fits your family. Remember your options are always open. If one approach is not working for you, you have the option of choosing another approach.

 

Every parent of a baby with a hearing loss should be given an information package, which contains very useful information. Life with a new baby can be challenging and the amount of information coming your way may seem overwhelming. You can ask your interventionist to go through the binder with you over time, or help you find another way to take in the information.

 

They will assist you in taking in all the information provided by various health care providers. They will help find services that work for your family and baby.

Typically they try to contact families by phone before sending out an information binder. If you have not yet spoken with an Intervention and Service Coordinator or another early intervention specialist from the BC Early Hearing Program, please contact us by email or phone.

 

We work closely with the Coordinator of Guide By Your Side. Through this program, families receive a phone call from one of the Parent Guides who also have children who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The Parent Guides are trained to offer emotional support and unbiased information. They can share their experience of raising a child with a hearing loss. Parents often find this support and practical information helpful.
If you have not yet received a phone call from a parent guide but would like to, please call 1-866-612-2347 to arrange a call.

 

Hearing equipment

Your Audiologist will have specific recommendations for your baby. Generally, infants should aim to be wearing their hearing aids whenever they are awake. This might be a gradual process.

You will need to take the hearing aids out for bath time or swimming, and sleep. If your baby takes catnaps in the car seat, baby seat or stroller, it is fine to leave the hearing aids on. If you turn them off, just remember to turn them back on when your baby wakes up!

Some parents have said they worry about not being able to see their baby when facing backwards in a car seat, and have chosen to keep the hearing aids off in the car for this reason. When babies get old enough to pull off hearing aids, some have been known to chew on them! Small devices can be a concern for choking. Your audiologist will make sure to have a tamper-proof battery compartment so that the battery is difficult to remove. There are special attachments for hearing aids that can make it much more difficult for your baby to pull the hearing aid off. If you have any concerns about hearing aids and safety, talk with your audiologist.

 

Your Audiologist does careful testing to determine what loudness levels are safe for your baby. The hearing aids will be set so that there is a limit for how loud the sounds can get. If you are concerned you can talk to your Audiologist.

 

Cochlear Implants (CI) may be an option for young children with certain types and levels of hearing loss. The criteria are very specific. You should feel free to discuss with your Audiologist whether or not your child would benefit from a Cochlear Implant.

CI is a device that directly stimulates the hearing nerve. It can provide sound for people who have a severe to profound hearing loss.

For more information on Cochlear implants, visit the BC Children's Hospital Cochlear implant team website or talk with your local public health audiologist.

 

A hearing aid whistles when the amplified sound it produces feeds back into the microphone. The more powerful the hearing aid, the more likely it is that you will notice feedback.

You may notice feedback or whistling when you are cuddling or feeding your baby. You can choose to remove or turn off the hearing aid on that side while feeding. Hats may cause the same problem – you may need to try out different styles (e.g. toques, ball hats, etc.) to find one that works.

If your baby’s hearing aid begins whistling when it didn’t before, you may want to check:

  • Is the hearing aid inserted correctly?
  • Is there a crack in the tubing or has the tubing come out of the earmold?
  • It may just be time for a new earmold - babies grow quickly, and have to be fit with new earmolds frequently. In the beginning, this can be as often as every two to four weeks, then every three to six months as they get bigger.
 

Little droplets of moisture often collect in the tubing of hearing aids. When you notice this moisture, remove the tubing and earmold from the hearing aid and blow out the moisture with the “blower” given to you. It's a good idea to dry your baby’s hearing aids each night. You should have received a “dry aid kit” and instructions from your audiologist on how to use it. The hearing aid batteries should not be put in the dry aid kit as this will reduce battery life.

 

You are not the only parent to feel this way about new hearing aids:

“When my baby was young, he wore a headband to keep his hearing aid on, and everyone thought he looked like a girl. I knew in my head that the message I wanted to send my son was that he was perfect the way he was (hearing aid, headband, and all), but I had to struggle not to take it off for photos. As he grew older, his hearing aid became so much a part of him that the thought of removing it no longer even crossed my mind.”

“I didn’t even realize until I got to the photographer’s that I would struggle over whether or not to put his hearing aids on. To be honest, I don't even remember if I did or not. When it was time for pictures again, it would have been strange to take them off. He wore them all the time.”

 

It can be hard on a parent when total strangers ask questions about your baby’s hearing aids. It may help to think of it as an opportunity to educate the general public about hearing aids and hearing loss, to create a more informed and understanding world for your child to grow up in. As your child gets older and watches you answer the questions, he or she will be learning to explain to others about his or her hearing loss.

Some examples of what you might say:

“My baby has a hearing loss; we were lucky enough to find out when she was still a newborn.”

"Isn't he adorable!  His smile really lights up the room.  His name is ___________ ."

“They have new tools these days that can reliably assess a baby’s hearing. We feel so happy that he is not missing out on hearing us talk to him.”

“Technology is amazing these days!”

"It has been wonderful having the opportunity to learn sign language - our whole family is learning together!"

 
SOURCE: Parents' Questions ( )
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