Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Determining the Best Hearing Device for Your Child

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Determining the Best Hearing Device for Your Child

Article excerpt

When looking for the best hearing aid for your child, there are a number of things to consider. Specifically, Kathryn Laudin Beauchaine, M.A., an audiologist for Boys Town National Research Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska, says there are three characteristics that are important to consider when choosing hearing aids for children. First is frequency response, which determines the range of sound for which a hearing aid must compensate. The second is gain, the amount of actual amplification the hearing aid can provide. Third is the saturation sound pressure level (SSPL), the loudest sound the aid can create. The SSPL must be adjusted so it will not be too loud for the child, causing not only discomfort, but additional damage as well.

Device differences

"The main thing when looking for a hearing aid is to find the best fit for the patient," says Larry Higdon, Vice President of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). Generally, all hearing aids work the same way and have similar parts. A microphone picks up sound, and an amplifier makes it louder. A miniature loudspeaker delivers that louder sound into the ear.

The biggest differences between hearing aids relate to the size, location and the price of the device. Beauchaine says a hearing aid can cost anywhere from $600 up to $2,000.

The most common hearing aids are:

Behind-the-ear-aids. These devices fit in a small case that sits behind the ear. The case connects by clear tubing to an ear molding through which the sound is delivered into the ear.

This aid is suitable for all ages and for any degree of hearing loss.

Bodyaids. Designed to house the main elements of the hearing aid in a rectangular case, these devices fit in a shirt pocket, can be worn like a necklace, or otherwise attached to the clothing. A cord connecting the receiver snaps into the earmold.

Body aids can be used by children who have reduced dexterity because the controls are located on the casing, not in the earmold. In addition, controls can be made larger to accommodate children with additional disabilities.

Canal aids. Canal aids are contained in a small case that fits either partly or entirely into the ear canal. These are the smallest aids available on the market, which makes them cosmetically appealing.

However, these aids are not usually recommended for children. The hard plastic casing can be irritating. Also, for a canal aid to be effective, it should fit snugly within the ear, creating a seal that blocks out background noise. …

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