Sunday, January 31, 2010

To aid or not to aid?

At the time of Julia's diagnosis, I was thrilled to know that she would get hearing aids and intense speech therapy to overcome the speech and language delay caused by her hearing loss.

She wanted to hear and gave us little trouble wearing her hearing aids. The devices quickly became a part of daily routines. She frequently talks about how her "magic ears" help her because she can't hear well with her ears "plain".

To listen to her sing "Under the Sea", puts a lump in my throat every time. Her constant talking is something that wouldn't have happened without the aids. I know that assistive technology was the right thing for our family without any doubt.

Other families come to a different conclusion. From a similar background of two hearing parents can come a child with mild/moderate hearing loss that is unaided. This is something I struggle to understand. These are not kids that will learn sign language and enter into Deaf culture. They will have a "normal" childhood except for a diminished ability to hear. It seems they get no assistance, as if they're near sighted and can never wear eyeglasses.

The child could be very adverse to the hearing aids. I'm sure they're not comfortable. Some cultures have objections or shame. The financial burden is a prohibitive factor in some states, although cost is no excuse here in PA. If there are other reasons I'm missing, please let me know in the comments.

Readily available research supports consistent appropriate amplification. The Hearing Loss Resource Center reports:

Also, despite the terms "mild" and "moderate," these levels of hearing loss can have a significant impact on a child's ability to communicate. Research by Dr. Matkin and colleagues, for instance, indicates that "a child with an unaided "mild" hearing loss (pure tone average of 35db) misses 50% of conversational speech and lags two years behind his peers in language ability when he enters kindergarten. An unaided child with a 50 db loss (usually labeled moderate hearing loss) can miss 80% to 100% of the speech signal." (from Knowing the Ropes, 1996).

"Two years behind" and "misses 50% of conversational speech" had us expediting the arrival of our daughter's hearing aids any way we could.

We've been greatly rewarded as a family by the choice we made for our child. Instantly, I had a 3-year-old that would stop and turned around when I called her name. I realized she hadn't been misbehaving, she hadn't heard me. I believe behavioral problems would have increased as her time without amplification continued.

I cherish the conversations we have and I love her hearing aids. She loves hearing. Though I never thought of this as much of a choice, for us, aiding was the right one.


  1. Like you I cannot imagine not employing every technique to allow my child to hear. However here in Ky it is a cost burden for many families, since medical card does not cover it and even with insurance teh costs can be outrageous. My mom who is 71 and has hearing loss won't even go look because of the cost associated with them adn she has both meicard AND military health insurance.

  2. Although I am not living your experience, I can't imagine not doing everything in my power to help my child live his/her best life. It sounds like you are an amazing mom doing an extraordinary job. I even teared up imagining you listening to your daughter singing....

  3. I can not imagine how hard it must have been finding out and how much of a struggle it must have been. I'm glad things are slowly working out. :)

  4. I am always amazed by the way you deal with issues in your life, and are able to articulate them so that even if other readers and I don't face the same problems, we are still interested in what they are and how you handle them. Thanks for sharing!

  5. As a mom we do whatever is in our power for our kids. I would have done the same thing in your position.

  6. In reply to your comment...

    Hey I'm sold on that idea. If there is a job where I can make a lot of money being eccentric and yelling at kids, sign me up.

    Although.. the second time I had that class he wasn't nearly as crazy. I think it was like the drill sergeant giving the new recruits a rough time the first day.

    I also looked him up on this site called which is like rate my professor. He has a 0% drop rate over 6 semesters with no one getting an F or a D. So it's looking a lot better.

  7. While I was sitting on the fence regarding whether or not I would aid my daughter after she was diagnosed with a mild unilateral hearing loss, I am so glad that I have aided her - especially since there is now a possibility that she may have a mild bilateral loss. Prior to aiding her, I had no problems communicating with my daughter (her loss in the booth was normal to mild high frequency(35 db) in her right ear and normal across all frequencies in her left - her ABR showed a 25-35 db loss in the left ear and 25-40 db loss in the right ear), her speech developed normally and on track, and she was doing well in kindergarten unaided. My husband was worried that she might be teased if we got her a hearing aid. Well so far, it has only been a positive experience for her. Her hearing in her right ear aided tests normally across all of the speech frequencies, so she can hear our whispers now without a problem. When she put on her pink aid for the first time, she got a big smile on her face. And she says it's very comfortable - she wears it pretty much all of the time, although she definitely can get by without it. The aid just makes life easier for her, and we don't have to watch Dora at such a high volume either! Should she need an aid for her left ear, we'll get her one. I hope she doesn't need one of course, but I'm glad hearing aid technology and design have advanced so much since I was a kid. I hope it continues to advance every year. Good post.


  8. Stopping by from SITS! You made tough decision. It sounds like it was the right one for you.

  9. Good for you for being your child's best advocate!


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