Posted by: Lisa Flores, AuD, Audiologist – UT Dallas Callier Center for Communication Disorders
Hearing problems often take parents by surprise. When their child is diagnosed with a disorder, they aren’t sure where to turn next. Thanks to major advances in technology, audiologists now have a wide range of impressive tools to offer patients of all ages. But if we want our patients to reach their greatest potential, we must go beyond fitting a new device. We need to get to know these families and help them understand how to help their children outside the clinic.
A recent survey of patients’ families, conducted by a team of audiologists from Utah State University and reported in the ASHA Leader, revealed that parents cited several obstacles in their effort to help children. The researchers named the following big three: cost, retention and daily management.
Limits on insurance coverage and government assistance have left many parents owing large sums for their children’s hearing aids. A sizable number of families simply can’t afford to buy a set and go without. Audiologists need to be aware of situations like this, because they can often help families figure out a way to get help. In some states, for example, loaner hearing aids are available.
Parents also report having trouble keeping the devices in their rambunctious child’s ears. Again, communication professionals with years of experience can probably share effective strategies for parents to try. Delayed intervention – or abandonment of hearing assistance – can greatly impact a child’s long-term outcome.
To make sure the aids are working at their optimum level, parents also must understand how to take care of the devices. The Utah State survey found many parents did not own a listening stethoscope for checking effectiveness. A large number of other parents never received adequate training on how to check hearing levels.
As professionals charged with helping both patients and parents, many of us are booked to the max. We work hard to do all we can for each of our families. But we may need to figure out our own strategies for listening better. By taking every opportunity to share our experience and expertise, we can help these families long after we finish all the tests.