How to Care for Hearing Assistive Technology at Home
When students with hearing loss are on the CCHAT campus, they are fortunate to have access to a staff of listening and spoken language experts. CCHAT’s team of teachers, speech therapists, audiologists and instructional aides ensures that each child has working hearing-assistive technology in order to enjoy optimal access to sound.
However, the work cannot stop when a child leaves school. At home, there are several things you can do as a parent to care for your child’s listening devices. These tips will keep hearing aids and cochlear implants working to maximum capacity, producing high-quality sound for children who are deaf and hard of hearing.
Cleaning Your Devices
Regular cleaning of hearing-assistive technology is imperative to keep your devices working properly. Be sure to use non-abrasive cleaning equipment that will not damage the delicate devices.
For hearing aids, cleaning includes clearing obstructions, such as ear wax, moisture and dirt from the ear molds and device tubing. This can be accomplished with a hearing aid air blower, which forces debris out of the obstructed area. You can also run a piece of dental floss or fishing line through the tubing to clear out an obstruction. An audio wipe can be used to further clean the ear mold.
Audio wipes are also useful in cleaning cochlear implants. Wiping down each of the connections on the device (magnet to coil, coil to processor, etc.) will ensure the production of high-quality sound for your child with hearing loss.
It is also important to make sure that microphones on hearing aids, bone-anchored devices and cochlear implants stay clear. Your devices likely came with a small, stiff wire brush that is meant to be brushed over the microphones on a regular basis to make sure dust and skin cells do not settle on the microphones.
Always Have Batteries Ready
It seems simple, but without batteries, hearing-assistive technology does not work. Every second that your child goes without sound is a missed opportunity for listening and language development.
If you use rechargeable batteries, always have a set ready to use should your child’s current batteries run out of charge. In general, a rechargeable battery takes about 4 hours to fully charge and will power a device for a full day.
If you use disposable batteries, make sure you have an ample stock on hand. CCHAT requests that families send their children to school with batteries, but we always maintain a stock on campus to cover for those without.
Listen, Listen, Listen
Perhaps the most important thing a parent can do to ensure that hearing-assistive technology is functioning properly is listen to the devices.
Families should receive listening check equipment when your child with hearing loss receives his/her devices. For hearing aids, this is a stethoset. A stethoset is a tool that includes a small rubber cup that affixes to the hearing aid and an earpiece on the opposite end that allows for listening. Using a stethoset can help you identify distortions in sound quality for your child’s hearing aid.
Bone-anchored devices come with either a headband or small post that the hearing aid can be snapped on to. The post/headband should then be placed on the mastoid bone (behind the outer ear) for the listening check to take place.
Cochlear implant listening check equipment varies by brand. Regardless of the type, this quality control technology helps you determine imperfections in the sounds your child is hearing. From there, you may be able to troubleshoot and find the exact root of the issue, thus allowing you to quickly rectify the problem. Familiarize yourself with your child’s listening equipment so that you can regularly and easily check the quality of the sound they are receiving.
CCHAT works hard to teach children with hearing loss how to be good reporters and identify when their hearing devices are not working properly. However, as a parent, especially one of younger children, it is also your job to verify that equipment is producing high-quality sound. Daily listening checks and awareness of potential issues is imperative to your child’s speech and listening growth.
Report Issues to Teachers, Speech Therapists and Audiologists
Keeping your child’s listening and spoken language team aware of any issues pertaining to equipment is very important. Not only can they help you further identify and solve problems, they may have tips to help prevent future issues. When you are on the same page, your child benefits.
Additionally, CCHAT is always here to help. We understand that becoming familiar with the functions of your child’s listening equipment can be overwhelming. If you would like a tutorial on how to clean or listen to your child’s devices, simply let a CCHAT staff member know.
Optimal Sound for All Waking Hours
Your goal as a parent of a child with hearing loss is to ensure that he/she has access to optimal sound for all waking hours. For newborns and toddlers, the responsibility falls largely on you to keep hearing-assistive technology running smoothly. As children grow older and gain self-advocacy skills, they will be able to maintain their equipment more independently. Work together with your child. Developing positive habits relating to device maintenance will only help the productivity of his/her equipment, leading to better listening and spoken language achievements.
If you have any other questions or concerns on how to care for your child’s hearing-assistive technology, do not hesitate to contact us.