Earlier I talked about what happens if your child won’t take off his or her audio processor, but sometimes the exact opposite happens: a child might not want to wear his or her audio processor. If this is happening with your child, don’t worry! There are some tips and strategies that you can use to help your child get into the habit of wearing the audio processor and enjoying sound.
Why Won’t They Wear It?
There’s a lot that goes on after a cochlear implant recipient’s first fitting. Not only are there many sudden new sounds, there’s also the audio processor itself. For someone who hasn’t used hearing aids before, it’s a completely new feeling to wear an audio processor. And even if they have been wearing hearing aids, a cochlear implant audio processor might feel different to them.
Sometimes, a child recipient will resist wearing the audio processor. They might try to keep you from putting it on, pull at it while they are wearing it, or express their discomfort. If any of this sounds familiar to you, here are some tips that you can use.
Establish a Routine
Setting a routine is one of the first things you should do. When your child wakes up, put their audio processor on in a familiar place at a set time. Whether it’s just after getting out of bed or after brushing their teeth, the key is consistency. And when it comes time to go to bed, make sure to put the audio processor in the same place each night so that your child sees it there in the morning.
If your child starts to make a game of hiding or pulling off the processor, don’t let them play it. Be firm and be consistent in showing them that their game isn’t something you’ll accept, and repeat that he or she should wear the audio processor because it will benefit him or her and help to develop speaking and language skills. Make sure that the rest of your family behaves in the same way, with a firm but loving conviction regarding your child and the audio processor.
Do not reward your child for wearing the audio processor. Instead, lead by example: demonstrate that wearing the audio processor is normal behavior and your child will follow your example.
Engage With Your Child
Show your child the benefits of wearing the audio processor. In the early days after the first fitting, you and other family members should explore new sounds with your child and encourage new hearing experiences. Whether it’s playing with musical instruments or toys, or going out into nature and listening to the birds chirping or river flowing, any new experience is a new way for your child to recognize that wearing their audio processor is the best way to enjoy sounds.
Stay aware of their hearing. Make sure that their audio processor is always in working condition, either by asking them or using the speech processor test device. It might also be a good idea to try out different wearing options for the processor, or using a fixation accessory like an ear mold to keep the processor securely on the head while out and about. If the processor has a long coil, keep an eye out on that too. Let your child know that the audio processor is not for playing with or chewing on, it’s for hearing.
It’s All About Patience and Perseverance
The goal is clear: have your child wear his or her audio processor during all waking hours. By being firm but gentle and loving you can encourage your child to wear the audio processor and enjoy a world of sound.
And if you have any questions about your child specifically, it’s always a good idea to talk with your audiologist or local MED-EL representative.