Different types of hearing aids work best for different patients depending on the type of hearing loss they have. Our audiologists evaluate patients to determine the right hearing aids to meet their needs.
Children use their hearing to develop the language skills needed to communicate effectively. For children with hearing loss, language development is often delayed. Even mild hearing loss can affect a child’s language development and communication skills.
With modern hearing aid technology, children can be fitted for hearing aids as soon as deemed necessary, often within the first few weeks or months after birth.
The audiologists at Johns Hopkins All Children’s are experienced in fitting hearing aids for children of all ages. An audiologist will conduct a detailed hearing evaluation to determine which type of hearing aid will best meet your child’s needs, and work closely with your child’s speech-language pathologist, teacher or educational audiologist at his or her school.
We provide hearing aid checkups and adjustment services to make sure your child’s hearing aids continue to work properly. We also provide patients and families with age-appropriate information on hearing aid use and care.
How hearing aids work
A hearing aid contains a microphone that picks up sound in the environment, increases the volume as needed, and transfers the improved sound to your child’s ear. Modern hearing aids use digital technology that allows the sound coming from the hearing aid to match sound picked up by the microphone with increased volume, and can be adjusted as needed depending on your child’s condition, the hearing aid’s performance, your child’s comfort or changes in hearing levels.
Digital hearing aids also can have advanced features like reduction in feedback (whistling), minimized interference of background noise and enhanced speech in the environment. The style of hearing aid your child needs depends on factors like his or her age, and the amount and type of hearing loss.
What to expect with your child’s hearing aids
When your child is fit for hearing aids, the audiologist will show you how to take care of the hearing aids and what to expect. While it may take some time for your child to get used to wearing hearing aids, it’s important he or she wears them during all waking hours. Children learn speech and language through listening directly to others who are speaking with them. They also learn by “over-hearing” people around them talking, even when the sounds are not specifically directed toward them. When their hearing aids are not in place, they are missing these opportunities for learning.
You may need to set specific time frames when your child wears the hearing aids during the first few days to make sure the hearing aids stay in place. Activities like playing a favorite game, reading books or watching a favorite movie can be helpful distractions and reinforce for your child that the hearing aids are helping.
Children may not show immediate signs that they are hearing different sounds. You’ll need to monitor your child’s behavior for new sounds he or she seems to notice. It’s helpful to keep track of these so you can review them with your child’s audiologist at the next appointment. You should also keep track or any instances where your child seems uncomfortable with new sounds, so the audiologist can review and make adjustments to the hearing aid settings as needed.
Types of hearing aids for children
Behind-the-ear hearing aids
The hearing aid sits over and behind the ear and is often connected to a plastic ear mold. The behind-the-ear aid provides the most volume and flexibility for a child’s hearing loss. The casing is durable and can be secured to children’s clothing so they don’t lose it, and some models are water-resistant.
The ear mold is created to the shape of the bowl and canal in your child’s ear. As your child grows, a new ear mold will be made so the hearing aid continues to fit securely in the ear. The ear mold will require replacement less often as your child grows and has fewer changes to his or her ear size over time.
For teens who are actively involved in their hearing aid care, the behind-the-ear aid can also be fit to the ear with a slim tube and standard ear tip placed in the ear canal.
In-the-ear, in-the-canal, or completely-in-the-canal hearing aids
These hearing aids fit in the bowl or canal of the ear, either filling the bowl of the outer ear, extending just out of the canal into the lower portion of the bowl of the ear, or fitting entirely in the canal of the ear. These hearing aids do not have an ear mold that can be remade as a child grows, so they are typically fit once a child is a little older and his or her ear is less likely to change in size. Digital technology allows adjustments and fine-tuning as needed.
Bone conduction hearing aids
Bone conduction hearing aids transfer amplified sound via small vibrations to the bones of the skull. These vibrations stimulate the cochlea, rather than the typical process of hearing sounds through the pathway of the ear canal. The hearing aid is worn on a headband or attached to an implanted abutment. Bone conduction hearing aids may be recommended for children who have conductive hearing loss and/or cannot wear an ear-level hearing aid due to structural abnormalities, chronic drainage or other concerns.
Resources for families
The links provided are for informational purposes and solely for the user's convenience.
The American Speech-Language Hearing Association provides resources and information for families about hearing aids for children, including determining the right hearing aid for your child and tips to help your child wear the hearing aid correctly.
BabyHearing.org, a site of Boys Town National Research Hospital, includes resources for parents about the different types of hearing aids available for children.
Florida Hands and Voices provides support for children who are deaf or hard of hearing and their families.
Most insurance companies cover the cost of diagnostic evaluation, but many do not cover the cost of hearing aids. Please check with your insurance provider to verify your benefits plan. Payment by cash, check or credit card is due on the day of your visit. Medical records may be faxed to 727-767-8998.