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Are My Sons Hearing Aids Working?

To determine whether your son's hearing aids are functioning properly and/or need to be adjusted, it is important that you schedule regular follow-up visits with an audiologist - ideally one with a specialty in pediatrics. Guidelines [1, 2] recommend that children fit with hearing aids be seen by an audiologist every 3 months for follow-up during the first 2 years of hearing aid use and at least every 6 months thereafter if there are no concerns. During these visits, a number of procedures can be conducted to address your concerns. For instance, the audiologist can use equipment to measure the response of your son's hearing aids for various sounds and ensure they are working as they should. These measurements will help the audiologist determine whether the hearing aids are providing the appropriate levels of loudness for signals-of-interest (e.g., speech) while avoiding output levels that could cause discomfort or damage your son's hearing. Further, the audiologist can conduct tests which indicate if the hearing aids are free from any intermittence or distortion that could adversely affect your son's ability to process sound. Regular follow-up is also necessary to monitor your son's auditory function and ensure that any changes in hearing loss or ear canal size are accounted for through hearing aid adjustments and/or earmold replacement. Consultation with an audiologist will lead to an indication about whether your son's aided auditory function is progressing as expected given his age, degree of hearing loss, age at fitting and presence of any other disabilities.

In addition, feedback from other professionals (e.g., Auditory-Verbal Therapist, Speech-Language Pathologist) can be very helpful when trying to determine whether your son's auditory skills and/or speech and language is developing as expected. An audiologist can also instruct you regarding daily use and care techniques so that you can evaluate your son's hearing aid function between appointments. For instance, battery checks, listening checks and troubleshooting techniques are some of the topics an audiologist can discuss with you. By observing your child's performance in various listening situations, it is also possible for you to obtain some indication of the performance of his hearing aids. Keeping in mind the 'aided auditory expectations' for your son as outlined by your audiologist, verify whether your son responds to sounds around him (e.g., alerts or turns to sound, produces speech-like utterances, responds to his name). In this regard, your audiologist can provide you with a number of assessment tools and questionnaires (e.g., Children's Home Inventory of Listening Difficulties (CHILD); Infant-Toddler Meaningful Auditory Integration Scale (IT-MAIS)) so that you can track and record your son's progress with his hearing aids for future follow-up. Finally, should you have any concerns regarding your son's hearing or hearing aids, schedule an appointment with an audiologist at your earliest convenience.

[1] Pediatric Working Group (1996). Amplification for infants and children with hearing loss. In F.H. Bess, J.S. Gravel, and A.M. Tharpe (eds.), Amplification for children with auditory deficits. Nashville, Tenn.: Bill Wilkerson Center Press.

[2] Pediatric Amplification Protocol (2003). The American Academy of Audiology

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