Children with listening difficulties due to hearing loss or auditory processing disorders may benefit from hearing aids. Early amplification provides access to sound perception and increases their ability to acquire speech and develop language during this critical phase of their development. After a child is diagnosed with a hearing loss, parents may want to consider hearing aids.
There are many different types of hearing aids depending on the age of the child and the degree and types of hearing loss. A pediatric audiologist will make a recommendation for the type of hearing aid that is appropriate.
Clearance for Hearing Aids
State law requires that medical clearance be obtained before fitting hearing aids on children. The Joint Committee on Infant Hearing (JCIH)-2007 Position Statement states that management of otitis media with effusion should not delay the prompt fitting of amplification. Hearing aids can be fit as soon as the hearing loss is confirmed, as early as one month of age.
More information on hearing aids can be found here.
Loaner Hearing Aids and FM Systems
The Hawaii State Department of Health maintains a hearing aid loan bank, located with the Children and Youth with Special Health Needs Section (CYSHN), to provide short-term loaner hearing aids for children enrolled in Early Intervention or the Children with Special Health Needs Program. Contact the care coordinator or the child’s audiologist for more information.
Payment for Hearing Aids
Most insurance plans cover hearing aid purchase and hearing related services. Private insurance plans cover a percentage of the cost, which vary with plans. The patient will be left with a co-payment for the balance. Medicaid and QUEST plans cover hearing aid purchases every three years and related services. For financially qualifying families, limited financial assistance may be provided by CYSHN.
The Department of Health, Early Intervention Section (EIS) may also provide financial assistance for hearing aids. Contact the child’s care coordinator for more information.
Some children with hearing loss do not benefit from the use of hearing aids and may be candidates for cochlear implants. Cochlear implants require a team approach to assess candidacy, perform surgery, and provide extensive aural habilitation. An audiologist and otolaryngologist collaborate in the decision on whether the child meets the criteria for candidacy for cochlear implantation. Families then decide if this is the amplification choice they prefer. Evaluation for candidacy for cochlear implantation can begin as soon as the hearing loss is identified.
Cochlear implant surgery is available at several hospitals on Oahu. Contact the patient’s otolaryngologist or audiologist for more information.
More information on cochlear implants can be found here.