When my daughter first got her hearing aids, she was only a few months old. As soon as she was able to, she started pulling them out. She’d pull them out all the time and would rarely wear them for very long, if she wore them at all. The only thing she liked was picking out colors for new ear molds.
While this was frustrating to have her constantly pulling out her aids, we accepted that she simply clearly didn’t like her hearing aids for some reason or didn’t feel like she got any benefit from them. We respected her feelings on that front and did not force her hearing aids on her. Which we were able to do because we were also signing with her and raising her to know ASL as well as English (one of many reasons I believe ASL is essential for all D/HH kids, but that’s another post for another time).
I think it is key with little kids and their hearing aids to not force the issue. Far too often, the parents, usually at the misguided instruction of their audiologist, will push and push and push a child to wear their hearing aids during all waking hours and create a power struggle. This stresses the parent out, and it definitely stresses the kid out. Many kids who get locked in such a power struggle with their parents will “lose” their hearing aids many a time over their childhood to avoid having to wear them. My husband likes to tell as story about how he’d throw his aids under his dresser to hide them when he was a kid. My husband eventually reached a point though where he realized the benefits for his aids outweighed the negatives.
Now at 4, especially the last few months, this decision has paid off. She started being more willing to put her hearing aids in for school. Started wearing them longer both in school and then leaving them on longer and longer after school. She now will wear them all day most days. While I would have been fine either way, choosing to use her hearing aids or not, I am happy to see her choosing to wear them as it gives her the most options.
So to every parent out there who is told by your child’s audiologist that if you don’t force your child to wear their aids every waking minute, then they’ll never wear their hearing aids, your audiologist is wrong. Both my husband and my daughter prove it. I know other Deaf folks who have made similar decisions. Each Deaf person, young and old, must make their own decision about if their hearing aids are beneficial enough to be worth the hassle. Hearing aids are but one tool for communication available to deaf kiddos…certainly provide them as an option if you’d like, but don’t feel obligated to push them, and always give your child other tools at their disposal as well. Give them the ability to function comfortably with or without their hearing aids.
Along with avoiding a power struggle around the hearing aids, the other smart move we made was to drill into her head from a very young age that whenever she took her hearing aids out, she had to give them to a responsible adult (us parents, her teacher, or whoever else was watching her) right away and never just leave them laying about and to never play with the batteries. We did this both to avoid losing hearing aids if she took them out and left (or worse, threw) them somewhere and to be extra careful about her or other kids swallowing the batteries or destroying the hearing aids…either intentionally or by accident.
I think we may have done a little too well on that last point though because last night she comes into our room at 2:30 a.m. waking us up to hand me her hearing aids telling me that we forgot to take them off before bed. LOL. That totally could have waited till morning kiddo.