How to Put in a Child's Hearing Aid
Hearing Aid Accessories
Step 1: Inspect the Hearing Aid
Before putting a child's hearing aids on, a thorough inspection is necessary to ensure the aids are functioning properly. A very young child will not be able to report when a hearing aid is malfunctioning, so a responsible adult should check each aid on a daily basis.
Inspect each hearing aid visually. Inspect the tubing, ear hook, and hearing aid case for any cracks or damage. Ensure the battery doors shut securely and that the locking mechanism is secure: hearing aid batteries are toxic and every child should have hearing aids with locking battery doors. Check the filter on top of the hearing aid to be sure it is not clogged, and the earmold to verify there it is not clogged with earwax or debris.
Check each hearing aid battery to make sure it has a full charge. As a hearing aid battery loses its charge, the hearing aid may have diminished sound quality. Children may not report on intermittent signals or buzzing, so this is an important aspect to check each day. It is also possible to do a "spot check" of the battery by turning the hearing aid on and cupping it into your hand. In this case, you will be able to hear feedback if the hearing aid is on - this is less reliable than using a battery detector, as the battery may only have a partial charge and still produce feedback. The best way to check a battery is to use an automated battery checking device.
Perform a Listening Check: Ling 6 Sounds
The only way to ensure the hearing aid is operating properly is to listen to it. A stethoset is a type of stethoscope that attaches to the earmold: every parent or caregiver who has a child in hearing aids should have a stethoset. Listen to the hearing aids in a quiet location and note any buzzing in the background, intermittent signal, or sound distortion.
The most important part of a listening check is to run through the Ling Six Sounds. These sounds span the frequency range of spoken English. The sounds are (in order of frequency, from low to high): Mm, Oo, Aa, Ee, Sh, and S. Listen for any sound distortion or warbling when saying these sounds.
Wearing Hearing Aids - a Proper Fit
Insert the Hearing Aid
When putting in a child's hearing aid, the most important step is to ensure the correct hearing aid is placed into each ear. For children with bilateral hearing loss, the way to tell which hearing aid goes into each ear is simple:
The right hearing aid will be marked with a small red dot near the battery door.
The left hearing aid will be marked with a small blue dot near the battery door.
Remember: "Red is for Right!"
My child's hearing aids do not have the colored dots any longer, as his battery doors have been replaced with boots for a personal FM system. Once a parent is used to putting on a child's hearing aids, they will be able to tell which ear the aid goes into simply by the shape of the earmold.
Earmolds may be extremely tight when they are new. This is a good thing, as it prevents any sound leakage and feedback. Unfortunately, the earmolds may be difficult to insert - a few drops of a lubricant like Oto-Ease will make the earmold slide easily into place. Do not use Vaseline or other petroleum based products without talking to an audiologist - petroleum products may cause the earmold material to degrade. Oto-Ease is a safe lubricant for hearing aids and comes in a convenient bottle for travel.
Simply place the earmold in the child's ear, rotated slightly forward. Then twist the earmold back and push it into the child's ear canal. If the child experiences pain during earmold insertion, contact the child's audiologist immediately. The earmold may have a deformation, the child may have an ear infection, or the child's ear canal may be filled with wax.
Check the earmold for any gaps and listen for feedback. If an earmold is too loose, it may be time to take new earmold impressions.
Sound-Object Association: Ling 6 Sounds
Perform an In-Ear Listening Check
Once the child's hearing aids are inserted, have the child sit across from you and perform another listening check. This time, the child will demonstrate they can hear the Ling 6 Sounds by repeating the sounds, or by pointing to a representation of the sound.
For older children, say the sounds in a random order and have the child repeat the sounds. Make sure your mouth is not visible during this test, as you want to isolate hearing during this test and verify the child is able to hear all of the sounds.
Younger children may not be reliable with repeating the Ling 6 Sounds. In early infancy, a sound-object association is formed with the Ling Sounds and various toys. For example, an ambulance could stand for the "oo" sound and a snake for the "ss" sound.
The Ling Sounds are great for testing real-life hearing aid functionality, and for monitoring a child's hearing. In the video above, my son is not able to hear the "S" sound - his hearing aids are functioning properly, but he has a progressive hearing loss and may have lost some of his high frequency hearing. By performing the Ling Six sounds on a daily basis, we are able to call the audiologist when a change in hearing is noted.
Sample Objects for the Ling Sounds
Ice Cream or Candy
Ghost, Monkey, or Fire Truck
Baby or Bunny