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Children and hearing aids


When can a child be fit with hearing aids?

Infants as early as 4 weeks old can be fit with hearing aids and assistive devices that amplify sound, or make it louder.

Why is it so important to find and help correct for hearing loss early?

Hearing is critical for developing speech, language, and learning. The earlier that hearing loss occurs, the more serious the effect will be on the child’s development. Similarly, the earlier the hearing loss is identified and intervention (in tur VIHN shun) begun, the less serious the long-term effects will be. Intervention involves services to help correct hearing loss or make up for the hearing loss.

Research has shown that children with hearing loss who receive services before they are 6 months old develop language (spoken or signed) as well as children who can hear well.

What is early intervention?

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law that ensures free and appropriate early intervention programs for children who have hearing loss. This includes children from birth to age 3 and throughout the school years (ages 3-21). Early intervention services for infants and toddlers are family-centered and involve the services of several different professions. The goals include:

  • Helping the child develop language skills so important milestones can be achieved on schedule;
  • Helping the family understand the child’s needs and how to parent a child with hearing loss;
  • Monitoring the child’s progress; and
  • Helping the family make decisions for services and education each step of the way.

What kinds of hearing aids are best for children?

Work with the audiologist (ah dee AH leh jist) to assess what your child’s needs. Young children cannot adjust their own hearing aids. So, the hearing aid chosen must be easy to check and adjust by parents and caregivers.

Hearing aids will be adjusted as the child grows and develops and can respond to more complex tests. So it is good to have hearing aids that are easy to adjust for:

  • frequency response,
  • the amount sounds are amplified (made louder), and
  • the highest limits that sounds can be amplified.

As a child grows, the ear grows, too. This means the child will need frequent and regularly scheduled earmold changes.

In school and home settings, children will often connect their hearing aids to listening systems. The hearing aid prescribed should have features that allow it to connect, such as a telecoil and direct audio input.

Child with hearing aid

Why are behind-the-ear hearing aids most commonly used with children?

  • It allows use of various earmold types.
  • The earmold detaches and can be easily remade as the child grows.
  • The earmold can be easily cleaned.
  • It is easy to handle.
  • Controls are visible and easily checked and adjusted by parents.
  • Parents and caregivers can easily do a listening check.
  • It has a wide variety of gains (increases in sound volume) and frequency responses.
  • It can fit a wide variety of hearing losses.
  • It can be made with direct audio input, so it can be used with other listening devices.
  • It can be made with a telecoil.
  • It is fairly sturdy.

In what way is a school district responsible for a student’s hearing aids?

If a student is eligible for services under IDEA, then schools are responsible for ensuring hearing aids worn in school are working properly.

Must school districts provide assistive hearing technology?

If a student is eligible for services under IDEA, the school district must provide assistive technology if the student needs that service. Students with hearing loss can benefit greatly from assistive listening devices in their schools, such as FM systems. Schools must also properly train people using assistive technology, including teachers.


If you have questions about hearing aids for your child, call Rehabilitation Services at 901-595-3621. If you are outside the Memphis area, call toll-free 1-866-2ST-JUDE (1-866-278-5833), extension 3621.

Adapted from materials from the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (


This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.

St. Jude complies with health care-related federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.

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