There have been several studies recently which remind us how important it is that children with hearing loss use their technology every waking hour. The Boys Town group has done many wonderful studies over the years.
Several years ago they reported that children who wore hearing aids 10 or more hours/day performed significantly better than kids who did not wear hearing aids 10 or more hours a day. This became the gold standard Every pediatric audiology helped family understand that their children needed to have technology on all day to develop good auditory brain development.
They reported on a recent study in which they compared children with hearing loss to children with normal hearing in verbal working memory skills. They used neuroimaging with magnetoencephalography (MEG) and found that children who had more hours of listening a week did better. SURPRISE!!!!
Diminished auditory brain exposure leads to lots of problems in auditory development. There are lots of parts to this question.
Wearing hearing aids or cochlear implants 10 hours/day is only useful if children have lots of language exposure. We know that families can have difficulties dealing with daily life. In many families both parents work and come to chaos and do not necessarily have time. But if the child with hearing loss is going to do well the parents have to find time to spend with their children in a constructive way. If they cannot do it, someone else has to do it.
Successful Outcomes for Children with Hearing Loss
There are at least three categories of things that affect a child’s success. First there are issues related to the child.
- Was the hearing loss identified early and was technology fit early?
- Are there other developmental issues which affect learning?
- Is the technology providing good auditory access?
- And one really uncontrollable issue – is the child a little bit tough and able to deal with adversity?
The second factor relates to the family.
- Is the family invested in the child becoming successful?
- Are they able to enforce full time use of technology?
- Do they provide good language stimulation?
- Do they provide the child with good learning opportunities?
- Do they go places which give the child learning experiences such as libraries, museums and concerts?
- Do they encourage socialization so the child can develop good socialization skills?
- Do they work with a team to get their child what they need?
- Do they have the same expectations for the child with hearing loss that they have their children?
The third factor is the school.
- What kind of expectations does the school have?
- Do they expect from a child with hearing loss?
- Do they expect a child with hearing loss will succeed or do they have low expectations?
- Are they willing to put in some extra effort for this child to succeed?
- Are they providing a remote microphone for use in school, and if possible, for the child to take home for outside activities?
- Will they allow the child to change seats to hear and see better?
- Are they doing what they can to make the classroom quiet?
- Do they allow some time to train the staff about hearing loss – what to expect, and what they can do to improve success?
If the child, family and school can do what needs to be done, children can succeed. We need to keep reminding parents and kids that using technology EVERY WAKING HOUR is critical. We need to help children develop social skills so they can have friends. We need to teach children self advocacy skills so they can ask for assistance when needed. And we need to get them help when they need it.
It’s everybody’s job. We can do it.