You just found out your child has hearing loss. Now what? Imagine being told your beautiful new baby has already failed an exam before ever leaving the hospital. Unfortunately, this is the shocking reality for thousands of families whose children fail the newborn hearing screening and are subsequently diagnosed with permanent hearing loss.
Hearing is a vital sense that allows children to appropriately develop speech and language. More importantly, hearing allows us to connect with one another and develop longstanding relationships. Receiving a diagnosis of hearing loss often weighs heavily on the entire family. Families often struggle with the emotional impact of learning their child has hearing loss and the potential lifelong implications.
So, what can you do?
Hearing loss can vary in type and severity, and can occur in one or both ears. Understanding your child’s hearing loss will help guide you and your family in selecting the intervention option that is best for your child. With a definitive diagnosis, a motivated family, and a strong support system from medical professionals like those at the University of Miami Children’s Hearing Program, an appropriate treatment plan can be made to introduce your child to the wonderful sounds of the world.
What intervention options are available for children with hearing loss?
Hearing aids are one form of management option that can help children with hearing loss. A hearing aid is designed to amplify sounds and make them more audible. Every hearing loss is different. Therefore, every hearing aid is programmed and personalized to your child’s unique needs. The audiologist will use the results from your child’s hearing evaluation to fine tune and program the hearing aid. In our rapidly changing world, technology is also advancing. Today’s hearing aids are designed to be small and colorful, and are even equipped with wireless features!
Another type of hearing instrument that can be fit on infants and children is a bone conduction device (commonly termed “BAHA”). This device is specifically used when children have hearing loss due to structural abnormalities of the outer and/or middle ear. This device can also be used for children who have no hearing in one ear and normal hearing in the other ear (commonly termed “single sided deafness”). This device is often coupled to a headband, which can be personalized for your child.
What happens when a hearing aid is not enough?
Children with severe to profound hearing loss in both ears may continue to have difficulties hearing and developing proper speech and language, even with the use of their hearing aids. Cochlear implants are surgically implanted devices that directly stimulate the auditory nerve. In order to obtain a cochlear implant, strict criteria must be met. A comprehensive team of hearing health care professionals will be by your side through the cochlear implant process.
This all may seem overwhelming, but the goal is to ensure you have the resources and support for your child to reach their full potential. From the early diagnosis of hearing loss to the management of hearing aids and cochlear implants, the University of Miami Children’s Hearing Program is a unique resource for children and their families. The comprehensive hearing team includes ear, nose, and throat physicians, pediatric audiologists, auditory verbal therapists, psychologist, educational specialist, social worker, and pediatric support specialist.
Just remember, you are not alone. We believe children with hearing loss deserve to be given the great gift of sound and look forward to meeting you and working with your super HEAR-o!
To make an appointment with the University of Miami Children’s Hearing Program, please call 305-243-1110, or visit www.UHealthCHP.com.
Chrisanda Sanchez, Au.D, is a pediatric audiologist at the University of Miami Children’s Hearing Program. Kari Morgenstein, Au.D, is an audiologist and the Director of the University of Miami Children’s Hearing Program.