My family gets asked often: What is that in their ears, and what does a hearing aid do?
We love when people ask us this question. It gives us the opportunity to share with others about hearing aids, hearing loss, and how they work. Specifically, we get the chance to educate, model, and advocate. We get that people are curious – adults included. Hearing aids are incredible pieces of technology, who wouldn’t want to know more?
I am no Audiologist, just a mom of two children who were hearing aids. The National Institute of Deafness and Other Communications Disorders shares that hearing Aids have three basic parts: Microphone, amplifier, and speaker. The hearing aids will take in sound through the microphone. The sound is converted into electrical signals and sent to the amplifier. The amplifier increases the power of the signal and then sends them through a speaker.
How We Answer: What A Hearing Aids Does
That is a lot to try to explain to someone that asks at a park. So, here is what we typically when someone asks us what a hearing aid does:
“Thanks for asking! We love when people ask us about our “Super ears.” That’s what we call them, but others call them hearing aids. These are really cool devices that fit into their ears to make sure they can hear everything. They kinda work like glasses do for eyes, but for ears. Ayden and Sayge actually have a lot of natural hearing, but they need a little bit of help to make sure they don’t miss any sound.”
I speak for my children as a way of modeling what they can say when someone asks them and I am not around. I also see it as modeling for my hearing child too. My goal is to communicate a positive response that is informative, and simple. I want my message to be free of any kind of weirdness or embarrassment. It’s not every day that you get to see cool devices on an ear.
We believe that the more people know about hearing loss and hearing aids, the better it is for everybody. A lot of assumptions are made when one sees a person wearing hearing aids. Is there something wrong with them? Does it affect them cognitively? Physically? Are they completely without hearing? These are all fair questions to have. The problem is that each person wearing hearing aids is going to have a completely different story. One child who has profound hearing loss will wear hearing aids so that they can pick up on the direction of sounds. They will need to have additional support to communicate such as sign language, or lip reading. Other children, like my kids, have a lot of natural hearing. They wear hearing aids so that they can have access to important speech sounds that they would miss without their hearing aids on.
If another child or parent continue to show more curiosity, I run with it. I use these moments to ad ovate for my children. I will show them what a hearing aid looks like, and explain that my children can do everything other kids can do, they just struggle to hear as clearly and their super ears really help them hear well.
In addition, I use these opportunity to share the possible limitations that my child might experience. I share that when there is a lot of background noise, or you are far away, my kids might have a hard time picking up exactly what you are saying. If you see my son doesn’t respond as first, just try to go closer to him, or make sure he sees your face when you talk. Doing these two things are really helpful for my kids.
Educate, Model, Advocate
Wearing hearing aids does bring attention to our children. When it does, we use it as a chance to educate others, model how to respond, and advocate. If you or your child wears hearing aids, what do you say when people ask about them?