Technology: Parents Speak Out

By Janet DesGeorges, Leeanne Seaver, Susan Bruha, and Barbara Galoob

For many parents of children who are Deaf/hard of hearing, figuring out what kinds, if any, of technology (i.e. hearing aids, cochlear implants, FM systems, programmables etc.) can be helpful for their children can be a time consuming, hit and miss endeavor. While respectfully acknowledging those families who choose not to use any assistive listening devices for their children, this article is a compilation of stories from families who have had experiences in trying to figure out what was best for their child. This article does not in any way advocate the use of one technology over another, but seeks to give families some support in the way they go about finding what is right for their child.

Finding the right hearing aids: By Susan Bruha - Purchasing hearing aids for your child can be a time consuming and mind boggling experience. Thankfully, we have more choices now than ever before. No matter how much research you do, ultimately the hearing aid user is your best source. Our 8 year old daughter, Chelsea, tried three different types of hearing aids over a 4 month period. We found she didn't use the different programs with the programmable aids and showed a preference to the Resound aids. Chelsea kept saying "I can hear the best with these." Hopefully, that wasn't solely due to the volume control which looked like the remote control for your T.V., and is as much fun. During our research, we soon came to realize that each audiologist dispenses different brands of aids. Sadly, we had to switch audiologists in order to try the Resound Aids. It was worth the trouble after seeing the aided response on Chelsea 's audiogram. hopefully, our choices for hearing aids will continue to increase as technology advances.

FM systems, Microlinks: By Janet DesGeorges When my daughter entered preschool, the FM system was introduced to my daughter. (the teacher wears a microphone that transmits a direct signal to the aided wearer) They put the straps and the box with the wires going up to her ears and told me how much they helped her. Well, she hated them. I'm not sure if it was the whole set up or what, but it was a definite struggle all the way through Kindergarten to get her to wear the FM, and I wasn't so sure they helped! But when they did some testing where background noise was introduced, my daughters' language reception was so poor, I realized how important the FM system was in the classroom setting. When I heard about the Microlink, a small device that boots right onto the hearing aid users own Phonak hearing aid, with no wires, boxes etc. WOW did that change my daughter's life. There are no more struggles in the classroom about using the FM system. Her language reception (being able to repeat a list of words) in a noisy classroom went from 28% correct (while wearing just her personal aids ) to 94% correct when using the FM system (the Microlink). I'm a true believer now.

Extend Ears (From AVR Sonovation): By Leeanne Seaver Our son Dane, 10 years old & profoundly dear, wears these very powerful hearing aids that have an ear-level FM system built-in, (as opposed to an FM system connected with wires, button ear-molds, & a receiver worn on the body). The concept is a good one, and the quality of the amplified sound is superior to other products we've used, but there have been two major drawbacks. First, whether the FM feature is being used or not, the long, permanent antennas on the hearing aids are prominent and the source of some embarrassment for Dane. Secondly, the customer service and (very expensive) maintenance plan requires the equipment be sent back to Minnesota for all repairs, which means long stretches of down-time.

Cochlear Implant: By Barbara Galoob: Our family is all deaf or hard of hearing. My husband, myself, and our three children, and we all communicate orally. Our middle child, Amy, a first-grader, has the least amount of hearing of the three kids, and she would sometimes have a hard time understanding and communicating with people. We tried all kinds of amplification systems, but they didn't really fit her needs. She really wanted to be like her siblings, so we began to explore cochlear implants as an option, and even flew to Missouri to observe children with cochlear implants at CID and St. Joseph 's school. We talk at length with other parents and came away feeling very positive about what this technology can do. Amy wanted to "go for it!" Today she hears everything with her cochlear implant and loves it. It's awesome. We often have to rely on hearing people to answer her constant questions about the many sounds she's hearing that we don't hear. We're very satisfied with the product, and would rate our satisfaction with the Cochlear Corporation's customer service about fair to good.


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