When a child is born with hearing deficits, sometimes those deficits may be corrected by a simple surgery. The rest of the time, there may be nothing you can do. The deficit may remain the same throughout your child's life, or it may get worse. However it pans out, your child will grow up using and wearing hearing aids, which often presents several difficulties. Here is what you can expect at the various stages of your child's life.
Hearing Aids as an Infant
The sooner your infant is fitted for hearing aids, the better. Right now, your baby hears muffled sounds and cannot distinguish your voice from most others. The custom hearing aids for infants are made to fit in the canal so that your baby does not accidentally pull them out/off. This may feel weird to your baby at first, but your baby will adjust to it. The most important factor here is that your baby begins to hear the outside world right away so that he she may obtain some early language skills and not fall behind his/her peers.
Changing the Hearing Aids as Baby Grows to Toddlerhood
If your baby has become accustomed to having devices in his/her ears because he/she has had hearing aids almost from infancy, changes in the hearing aids as your baby grows into a toddler will not be a difficult transition. Your child's audiologist may decide to switch from ITC (in the canal) hearing aids to a more traditional hearing aid at this time. As long as your toddler does not attempt to pull the hearing aids out or poke at his/her ears, the transition should be easy.
Preschool to High School
The ear canals and ears change rapidly during the first thirteen years of life. With each change in the canals and the size of your child's ears, he or she will need a new set of hearing aids. This can become quite expensive, but most insurance plans for children will cover the cost of the hearing aids. You will also have to take your child to several audiological appointments every year to have the hearing aids checked and to make sure your child's ears are still in reasonably good health.
Many parents, when they discover that their new infants have hearing deficits, automatically assume that cochlear implants are the answer. Unfortunately, cochlear implants are only effective for children who have hearing deficits caused by problems in the cochleas of the ears. Unless your child's audiologist tells you early on that your child has a cochlear-related hearing problem, you can expect a lifetime of hearing aids for your little one.
For more information about your child's specific situation, contact a professional audiology clinic, such as Abingdon Falls Plaza Hearing Center.