“Did they hear that?” This is a question you may be asking yourself frequently if your child uses hearing aids or cochlear implants. Especially in the early weeks and months it will take careful observation to determine if your child is detecting sounds. Here are some things to look for, and some ways to make sure their devices are working properly. 

What should I look for?

Especially with our youngest kiddos, it can be hard to determine which sounds they are hearing with their cochlear implants and/or hearing aids. Here are some things to look for based on your child’s age. Remember, every child is different and will show you signs they are hearing in their own way.  Note: If your child has a cochlear implant, use their Listening Age instead (start at age-0 at date of CI activation, and count forward).

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Listening Checks:

Making sure your child’s hearing aids and/or cochlear implants are working properly is an important part of your morning. It only takes five minutes to make sure everything is working optimally. See this handout from Hearing First about how to optimize your first 5 minutes!

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Types of Listening Checks:

Behavioral Response: For very little ones you will present the Ling 6 sounds (oo, ee, ah, s, sh, m) at a louder volume and watch carefully for a behavioral response as they detect the sound (e.g. pause in sucking pacifier, change from relaxed to concentrated look, etc.)

Detection: For slightly older children use toys such as stacking rings, shape sorters, or other fun interactive toy. When they hear the sound, they can stack the ring or throw in the object. Take time to teach them how, and use lots of praise! If your child has two devices, you will want to begin doing a listening check with each side individually as well as both devices together.

Identification: For more experienced listeners, you can introduce sound-object association by pairing each of the sounds with objects.  As the child hears each sound they can indicate which sound they heard by pointing out the correct object. You can use actual objects (stuffed animals/toys) or pictures. If they can identify the correct object, that tells us not only that they are hearing the sound, but that they can discriminate between the different sounds.  Here are some example toys you can use!

Ah – Airplane

Oo – Monkey, Ghost

Ee – Mouse

Ss – Snake

Sh – Baby

Mm – Ice cream, Spoon

Imitation: When they are able, you will want to teach your child to imitate each sound after it is presented. This is important to determine exactly what your child hears. We recommend covering your mouth with a listening/speech hoop so they do not rely on lipreading cues for this task. Additionally, this task works on expanding the child’s auditory feedback loop and provides information on any sounds they may be mishearing. Once they are experts at this, listening checks can be a super quick part of your morning!

Take Notes!

Whether you mark down their performance every day or simply indicate the sounds they missed, it is important to keep track in some way. That way if there are changes that persist, you can provide that information to your child’s audiologist.

Here is are some sample forms you can use to keep track each day:

Bilateral CIs or Bilateral Hearing Aids

Bimodal (1 Hearing Aid & 1 CI)

Unilateral (Hearing Aid or BAHA)

Unilateral (Cochlear Implant)