10 Things an Audiologist Wants Parents to Know - part 2

Your audiologist wants to be your partner in helping your child with hearing loss succeed. Visual Mozart/ Getty Images

 The first part of this article can be found here. 

6. Hearing is not just about the ears; it is also about the brain.

Our ears detect sound, but it is the brain that gives sound meaning. If the ears are working well but a child still has difficulty listening, following directions, hearing in noise, and/or struggles with spelling they may have an auditory processing disorder (APD). Finding an audiologist that specializes in APD diagnosis and treatment is important for getting a correct diagnosis.

While other professionals, such as speech-language pathologists and psychologists are important members of the APD team, only an audiologist can diagnose APD. 

Another hearing disorder, called auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder (ANSD), occurs when communication from the inner ear to the brain is impaired. Hearing sensitivity may be anywhere from normal to severe. People with ANSD have difficulty hearing and understanding speech in noise and their abilities to hear may fluctuate. ANSD is diagnosed by an audiologist. 

7. If the hearing aids are off, your child's brain is off.

Continuing along the lines of hearing being about both the ears and the brain, it is important to realize that when a child's hearing aids are off that clear sounds are not getting to the brain. It is essential for the brain to have access to sounds during the critical developmental phases of cortical maturation. This base (within the first year of life) sets the foundation for further development, speech and language abilities, and literacy.


8. Mild hearing loss is still hearing loss.

Minimal, mild, unilateral (one ear) hearing loss is still hearing loss. Approximately 5.4% of school-age children have permanent minimal, mild, or unilateral hearing loss. Untreated, children with these levels of hearing loss are ten times more likely to fail a grade than children with normal hearing.

Difficulty hearing speech with background noise (and classrooms are generally noisy) and listener fatigue may also manifest as behavioral problems.Use of hearing aids should be considered on a case-by-case basis, and the use of an FM system in the classroom may be an excellent option to provide better access to sound. 

9. Hearing aids break.

Hearing aids break, children outgrow ear molds, batteries go dead....it is a never-ending cycle. Plan for these inevitable issues. Have a home repair kit with a listening stethoscope, extra ear hooks, a dry aid kit, cleaning solution, battery tester, and even a spare set of hearing aids (if possible). Ask you audiologist to teach you how to re-tube an ear mold. There are many simple repairs that can be done at home that will save you time and keep the hearing aids working and on the ears! Clean the hearing aids as directed. Learn how to remove wax from the ear mold to make sure sound is getting through to your child. Check your child's ear mold for signs that it is too small or becoming worn and needs to be replaced.

A little attention every day can prevent big problems down the line and extend the life of the hearing aids. 

10. We want to be your partner.

Most audiologists entered the profession because they have a passion to help people hear better. There is nothing more rewarding than our patient's success and nothing more discouraging than not being able to make that connection with families to help them achieve their hearing goals. If your goal is oral speech for your child with hearing loss, the recommendations will be much different than if you want your child to use sign language. Be honest with us about your goals, wishes, and dreams for your child so we can work with you to make them a reality. 


Auditory Neuropathy (2011). National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Retrieved September 21, 2015, from http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing/pages/neuropathy.aspx

Flexer C (2011). The Auditory Brain: Conversations for Pediatric Audiologists. Audiology Online. Retrieved September 21, 2015, from http://www.audiologyonline.com/articles/auditory-brain-conversations-for-pediatric-817

Tharpe AM (2007). Assessment and Management of Minimal, Mild, and Unilateral Hearing Loss in Children. Audiology Online Retrieved September 15, 2015, from http://www.audiologyonline.com/articles/assessment-and-management-minimal-mild-930

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