Many babies who are deaf or hard of hearing are provided with hearing aids or cochlear implants early in life. These devices are used when the goal of the family is for the child to learn spoken language, or both spoken language and sign language. Hearing aids or cochlear implants help make sounds louder so that babies can hear sounds around them and learn to make sense of the words they hear. In early intervention, families learn ways to encourage the baby to listen all day long. The more children wear hearing devices, the more likely they will develop good spoken language skills as they get older.
Your audiologist will work closely with you to identify which hearing devices and settings will best meet your child's needs. Some of the factors that the audiologist will consider are:
The decision to pursue hearing devices may be complicated from both the parent and professional perspective. Some families decide not to have their baby use hearing devices, for various reasons, including a focus on visual communication (sign language) rather than spoken language.
You will probably be making decisions about the following:
To make these decisions, it may be helpful to ask professionals, parents, etc.
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What are our hearing amplification options?
You want your baby to grow up in touch with the environment.
To help the baby who can use residual hearing to keep in touch, you and your audiologist will be deciding on appropriate amplification. Will you look at hearing aids? If you do, what kind of hearing aid will help your baby the most?
If your baby is severely or profoundly deaf, will you explore the appropriateness of a cochlear implant? If you do, what information do you need to have before making such a choice? Who can give you information about how cochlear implants work differently with different individuals?
Babies and young children are often in noisy places where it can be hard to hear even with hearing devices. Remote microphone systems may also be used by families to help their child hear in noisy places such as in the car, daycare, or when at the park. For more information, go to www.babyhearing.org/devices/fm-systems
Helping a baby who is deaf or hard of hearing to keep in touch with the environment, especially when they are not using hearing devices, may mean changing sound into light or touch. Today, you can choose from many devices that flash or vibrate when the telephone rings, when the alarm goes off in the morning, or when someone knocks at the door.
Many Deaf individuals use computers, text messaging, instant messaging, video relay services, video phones, FaceTime and other technologies to stay in touch with their community. This technology will help your baby connect and interact with family, friends, and the rest of the world as they grow.
For more information, visit: www.babyhearing.org/devices/assistive-devices-for-children