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Children and Hearing Aids


When can a child be fit with hearing aids?
Amplification such as hearing aids and assistive devices can be fitted for infants as young as 4 weeks old.

Why is early identification and early intervention for hearing loss so important?
It is widely understood and accepted that hearing is critical for the development of speech, language, communication skills, and learning. The earlier that hearing loss occurs in a child's life, the more serious the effect on the child's development. Similarly, the earlier the hearing loss is identified and intervention begun, the less serious the ultimate effects.

Recent research indicates that children identified with hearing loss who begin services before 6 months old develop language (spoken or signed) on a par with their hearing peers.

What is early intervention?
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) ensures that children who have hearing loss receive free, appropriate early intervention programs from birth to age 3 and throughout the school years (ages 3-21). Early Intervention services for infants and toddlers are family centered and involve multidisciplinary services.

  • The goal is to facilitate the child's language development so that developmental milestones can be achieved on schedule.
  • The goal is to enhance the family's understanding of the infant's needs and build family support in parenting the infant with hearing loss.
  • The goal is to monitor the child's progress and to make decisions for intervention and education each step of the way as the child develops.
Who pays for children's hearing aids?
  • There are various options available to assist in funding for children's hearing aids. Some private health care plans may cover the cost. Be sure to check with your health insurance company or your employer's benefits manager to find out.
  • Medicaid must cover the cost of hearing aids and associated services for children who qualify.
  • Early intervention through IDEA also provides coverage for certain costs associated with audiology services. Early intervention services are provided either through your local school system or through your local health department, depending the state in which you live. Check with your early intervention service coordinator to determine whether your child qualifies for early intervention and what is covered.

What kind of hearing aids are best for children?
It is important to work with your audiologist and early intervention team to evaluate your infant's needs. Since infants cannot adjust their own hearing aids, the hearing aid selected must be easily manipulated and monitored by parents and caregivers.

As a child grows and develops and can respond to more sophisticated tests, hearing aids are adjusted accordingly. Therefore, hearing aids that can be easily adjusted for frequency response, amount of amplification, and maximum limits of amplification are desirable.

One must also remember that as a child grows, the ear grows too. This necessitates frequent and regularly scheduled changes of earmolds.

Finally, in educational and home settings, children frequently connect their hearing aids to assistive listening systems. Therefore, the hearing aid prescribed should have the special features (telecoil and direct audio input capability) that will allow for this connection.

Several types of hearing aids are available and may be appropriate depending on the child's individual needs and skills. The behind-the-ear hearing aid is the type of hearing aid most commonly used with children. Why?

  • It accommodates various earmold types.
  • The earmold detaches and can be easily remade as the child grows.
  • The earmold can be easily cleaned.
  • It is easy to handle.
  • Controls are visible and easily checked and adjusted by parents.
  • Parents and caregivers can easily do a listening check.
  • It has a wide variety of gains (increases in sound volume) and frequency responses.
  • It can accommodate a wide variety of hearing losses.
  • It can be made with direct audio input, so it can be used with other listening devices.
  • It can be made with a telecoil.
  • It is relatively sturdy.

What is the responsibility of the school district when it comes to a student's hearing aids?
If a student is eligible for services under IDEA, then schools are responsible to ensure that hearing aids worn in school are functioning properly.

Must school districts provide assistive technology such as assistive listening systems?
If a student is eligible for services under IDEA, assistive technology must be provided if the student requires that service. Students with hearing loss can benefit greatly from, and are frequently provided, assistive listening devices (such as frequency modulation systems) in their school.

Schools must also assure that those using assistive technology (including teachers) are properly trained.