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Listening to different hearing aids taught me how to better help my daughter

help my child with hearing loss
When my daughter, Lucy, needed her first pair of hearing aids, I felt totally bewildered.

Like 92% of parents, I was a “normal hearing” person, trying to make a decision for someone with hearing loss. How was I supposed to know how to choose the right device to buy? Lucy’s audiologist told us which manufacturer she liked and why. And that’s what we got. End of story.

But it’s not the end of the story, right? It’s the beginning of the story. That was day one for the next 3-4 years with that pair of hearing aids. I had no concept of how sound quality, noise reduction, and other features would impact my daughter’s outcomes.

How have you, as a parent, known what device to get?

Maybe you’re like me and just went with the audiologist’s recommendation. Or maybe you’re like others who ask other parents for recommendations and stories. But did you actually get to listen to the options? I didn’t. Not until recently. And it made a world of difference.

Listening to different hearing aids helps!

Recently, I was able to work on a project to record sound samples of the three leading pediatric hearing aids. The recordings are of the devices working in quiet, noise and at a distance. Typically, only audiologists get to listen to all three. But when you have to make a decision on behalf of your child, and really don’t know what you’re doing, I think “Hearing is Believing.”

And now – maybe for the first time – there is a tool parents can use to empower us in our decision making journey.

The first part of this video talks about what kids with hearing loss need and why.

Then about 2/3 of the way through, we get to listen to the sound samples. If you’re like me, you’d never heard a hearing aid before your child was diagnosed. So a few tips…

      • When listening in quiet, most aids sound pretty good. Listen for natural, full, rich sounds.
      • When listening in noise, pay attention to how hard you need to concentrate to really understand the speech. Processing sounds is one of the most taxing jobs the brain has. So listen for the clarity of the speaker’s voice above the background noise.
      • When listening through a remote mic/FM/Roger, again think about clarity of the speaker’s voice compared to the noise or distance. Feeling tired after listening for a long time presents a huge challenge for our kiddos.
      • Last but not least, as you listen to each of these try to think about which device do you think will best help your child succeed?

        Please note: the Pediatric Listening Experience will open in a new tab.
        Best viewed with Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. 

        What I learned from listening

                1. Not all hearing technology is created equal. Simply knowing that there are differences, helped me ask better questions of my daughter’s audiologist.
                2. Using an additional microphone like a remote mic / FM / Roger is not just for school. Hearing how much clearer the speaker’s voice was definitely was a huge “Ah-hah” moment for me. Wearing a microphone at home can be so helpful. I love not having to feel like I have to shout in the car or across the backyard.
                3. As a “normal hearing” parent, we need all the help we can get to understand the complexities of our children’s hearing journeys.

        Read more: 3 tips for explaining mild hearing loss to friends and family

        What are some things you learned from listening to this? And what other tools do you think are needed to help you advocate better for your child?

Author Details
Whitney loves a good cup of black coffee. By day you can find her in Phonak’s marketing department and by night you can find her chatting with her family and friends. She has tinnitus and moderate hearing loss. She is the mother to two children, both have mild to moderate hearing loss. Her favourite thing about her hearing loss: that she is a better advocate for her children. Her favourite thing about her hearing aids: that she can stream anything she wants! Her favourite sound: laughter and the ocean.