My daughter’s hearing loss journey began at the age of 3 when she got ahold of a Q-Tip and caused a traumatic injury to her eardrum. She is the cautionary tale of why objects should never be inserted into your ears. Since that time, my daughter has endured countless visits to her primary care physician, ENTs, and audiologists. She is considered one of the lucky ones- doctors believe that with the appropriate surgery, she will regain full hearing. Like all surgeries there is a certain amount of risk involved and due to her young age she is still a prime candidate for ear infections. For these reasons, the surgeon feels it would be best to wait until she is older. Until that time, my daughter employs the use of a hearing aid.
Through this journey I have learned some important lessons. Hearing loss can be a big, scary adventure for anyone, but it is particularly overwhelming for a young child who experiences sudden hearing loss. In a situation such as this, communication is key. My daughter was initially very distrustful of the ENTs and she did not want them to touch her ears. My daughter responds best when she knows what to expect, so every appointment I would walk her through what was going to happen. Over time she grew more comfortable with the processes and though she still dislikes people looking into her ears she has become more tolerant.
In a situation where your child may feel overwhelmed, let them make their own decisions (no matter how small). For my daughter, that decision was the color of her earmold. For her first earmold, my daughter chose hot pink with glitter to go with her bright purple hearing aid and she absolutely loved it! Her hearing aid was no longer this scary medical device, it was a chance to accessorize! She was so enamored with how “pretty” her hearing aid was that she immediately started showing it off to anyone who would listen. I also learned how important it is to be your child’s biggest advocate. Before the school year begins, I meet the teacher and review my daughters hearing loss, the use of batteries, and how to check that the hearing aid is working properly. Above all else, be realistic with your expectations. There is absolutely a learning curve when it comes to the use of hearing aids, figuring out how to properly insert hearing aids can be daunting and some people take longer to adjust than others. Don’t expect that you will be an instant pro, but don’t give up.