Sunday, November 29, 2009

Books for kids with hearing aids

As soon as we knew Julia was going to need hearing aids, I spent some time on Amazon trying to find a book to explain what was going on. I came across two choices at that time: Cosmo Gets and Ear and A Button in her Ear. I purchased Cosmo and checked the other out from the library.

A Button in her Ear is a good story, but I didn't add it to our collection. The pictures in the book are of outdated hearing aid technology that requires the little girl to wear a necklace contraption and cords that attach the hearing aids. We found it at the local library, read and returned the book.

Cosmo Gets an Ear has great images of over-the-ear hearing aids. Even with up-to-date technology pictured, the book is useless to us because the format is nearly impossible to read aloud. It takes a humorous approach to Cosmo's hearing loss. Each page has multiple choice options for what the character Cosmo is doing or thinking. I've never figured out how to make it flow enough to be a compelling read aloud story. Perhaps for an older kid that reads on their own this book would be helpful. It just isn't appropriate for young kids.

Fortunately, we found two favorites in the books published by the manufacturers Phonak and Oticon for distribution with kid's hearing aids. Having Hearing Aids is written and illustrated by Peter Augustine. Peter was eight-years-old when he wrote this book in 2003. His story exactly mirrors Julia's as he was diagnosed at age 3. He describes himself as saying "weird words" that his "mom couldn't understand." It gives us an opportunity to talk about the time before Julia was aided and how she couldn't learn to talk without her hearing aids. Peter's book is provided with Oticon hearing aids, but I was able to get a copy just by contacting the company. You can print a PDF version of Having Hearing Aids to read until you can get your hands on a bound copy.

Phonak includes their book, Oliver Gets Hearing Aids, and an Oliver puppet with their hearing aids. Oliver's hearing loss is discovered when he is in grade school. The doctor's visits and audiologist booth description are spot on. Oliver even gets earmold impressions made. It's a perfect way to review what is going to happen before an appointment with the ENT or audiologist. Note: Amazon does sell this book as Patrick Gets Hearing Aids ($11.90), but you can get a copy from Phonak for free or click the link to get a PDF.

A follow up in Oliver's adventures is Oliver Gets FM. I sent the print out of this PDF to preschool so the teachers could easily explain to the other kids why they were wearing the FM transmitter. I think it also serves to explain the FM to the teachers!

The books have been helpful in building Julia's understanding of her hearing loss, the hearing aids, and that she's not the only kid that can't hear with her plain ears. They seem to add instant credibility when explaining hearing aids to Julia's friends and classmates. These books offer a great way to inform your family, child, and their teachers what hearing aids are all about.

The books mentioned in this post: Cosmo Gets an Ear by Gary Clemente, A Button in her Ear by Ada Bassett Litchfield, Oliver Gets Hearing Aids, by Maureen Cassidy Riski and Nikolas Klakow, Oliver Gets FM by Maureen Cassidy Riski, and Having Hearing Aids, Written and Illustrated by Peter Augustine.

Update: I found two new books that I have reviewed in two separate posts, Let's Hear It For Almigal and personalized experience books.

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