Keeping Pediatric Earmolds in Place
I am not sure if your son is a new hearing aid user or if he has had hearing aid experience and this is a new problem, but in either case, keeping earmolds in a toddlers ears can be a challenge. Here are some ideas you might consider:
First of all, check the earmolds. If the earmolds are new, they may not fit correctly and may be uncomfortable for him to wear. They may even be rubbing a sore spot in his ear, causing pain. Also, some people are allergic to earmold materials, or the dyes used in earmolds. Check for any allergic-type of reaction; hypo-allergenic earmolds are available to address this problem. If the earmolds are old, and children outgrow earmolds very quickly, your son may be hearing feedback you are unable to detect, or he may not be hearing as well due to a decrease in amplification, so out come the earmolds and off comes the hearing aid. If you think there is a problem with the earmolds, see your audiologist.
Second, check the hearing aids. If the hearing aids are not working properly, the child may decide not to wear them. When hearing aids are too loud, amplification may be uncomfortable so the child wont wear the aids, and thus, the earmolds come out. When hearing aids are too soft, sounds cannot be detected or understood, decreasing the desire to wear the aids. If you think there is a problem with the hearing aids, see your audiologist.
Third, check for ear infection. Ear infections can cause ear pain, so anything around the ear, including earmolds, may hurt. If you think there is an ear infection present or developing, see your physician.
Fourth, check the ear canal. Dry, hard earwax may cause discomfort. Any type of foreign object may be touching the earmold causing pain. If you think there is an ear canal problem, see your physician.
Fifth, check the situation. Do the earmolds come out when the child is watching television? Maybe the tv is too loud. Do the earmolds come out when the child is around a computer? Maybe the computer makes a funny noise. Do the earmolds come out when the dishwasher is on, or a hair dryer, or any other type of noisy appliance? The amplified sound may be uncomfortable or hurt, etc. Either keep your son away from these noises while he is wearing his aids, or take the hearing aids out when these noises are present.
If you have checked out and addressed all the possibilities listed, and cannot find a reason for the earmolds to come out, here are some ideas for keeping the earmolds in place.
Hearing aids should be a positive experience. As you put the earmolds in, be happy and positive, yet firm. If your son takes the earmolds out, put them back in, but dont fuss at him. Try to institute some of the ideas below so he associates earmolds and hearing aids with positive experiences.
When you first put in the earmolds and turn on the hearing aids, distract your son. Maybe let him play with a special toy he particularly likes that is only available when he is putting on his hearing aids and earmolds. The toy should not be noisy, as the sound may be uncomfortable. If he takes the earmolds out, take the toy away, replace the earmolds, and only give back the toy if he keeps the earmolds in his ears.
Start out using the hearing aids for short periods of time in quiet situations. The new auditory input may initially be overwhelming, so allow for adjustment over a gradual build up period. As your son gets used to auditory stimulation, increase the length of time the hearing aids are worn, and gradually increase the number of sounds he is exposed to.
Initially, only use the hearing aids in direct communication situations so sounds will have meaning and become important for him to hear. Use the hearing aids when you are talking with your son, introducing new sounds, or in specific communication situations, such as when he is with a therapist or teacher. Eventually, he will realize hearing aids bring meaning to sounds he previously ignored. He will want to wear the aids for communication or to keep in touch with his environment.
Keep the earmolds in place by having your son wear a cap or headband. Hell look like an athlete! You will need to make sure the hearing aid microphone is not blocked, as this will either cause feedback or decrease the loudness of the input, but it can keep the earmolds in place.
If your son still insists on taking out the earmolds, establish some rules for wearing the earmolds which become a game. Tell your son that only Mommy or Daddy can take out the earmolds. Set a time for how long he must wear the earmolds by showing him the hands on a clock or by using an hour glass or stop watch. If he wears the earmolds for the indicated length of time, he gets a sticker, and if he gets 5 stickers, he gets a toy. If he doesnt wear the earmolds for the length of time indicated, he does not get a sticker. Be sure he sees the toy he is working for it will be quite motivating.
- Let your son be involved in earmold selection. Earmolds come in a variety of colors with swirls and glitter and all sorts of attractive details. Let him choose what he likes maybe he will be motivated to keep them in place to show off his cool earmolds!