Travelling for the first time with a child can be daunting for any parent but if you’re travelling with a child with a cochlear implant, or a child who is hearing impaired, there are added considerations.
Here are 15 tips to help you prepare for a trip when you’re travelling with a child with a hearing impairment & cochlear implant
- For cochlear implants, pack a battery charger, extra batteries and if travelling overseas take a power adaptor.
- Save hearing centre contact details to your phone so if you lose or damage processors you can get expert local help quickly.
- Take extra parts with you in case of loss or damage. Consider taking spare speaker covers, ear hooks and cables.
- Take your patient ID and medic alert bracelet if you have one. This card helps explain to airport officials how the cochlear implants work. It will alert officials to the magnetic element, the high risk of having, or being near an MRI machine.
- Allow additional time to get through airport security. Although official advice says walking through metal detectors is okay, to avoid buzzing sounds which can be uncomfortable, it can be preferable to ask security to use a hand-held device.
- There is no need to turn off your device during take-off or landing. The implant cannot interfere with the plane’s navigation or communication systems.
- Use the mini mic for in-flight entertainment, this allows clear transmission of sound to the child or person wearing the cochlear implant.
- Carry a first aid kit with you including moleskins which can be helpful if the skin between the magnets gets sore.
- When planning your holiday remember to plan breaks, down-time and quiet activities (bush walks, galleries, museum visits) as hearing impaired children get tired faster. Their brains are working hard to convert sounds.
- If you’re planning physical activities like jumping, climbing, flipping or anything fast or upside down, use safety clasps and headbands to ensure the processors don’t fall off and get lost.
- If you are planning a tropical getaway don’t forget to pack drying equipment so the devices can air out overnight while not in use. When hearing aids and cochlear implants are exposed to sweat, humidity or moisture all day, this can impact the device by blocking microphone covers or can damage the internal mechanisms. Aqua covers for water play will ensure kids can stay connected whilst playing in or around water.
- Being in a different bed or room can be scary for children, but even more so for a child with a hearing impairment who isn’t wearing their aids at night. A travel night light can help provide a sense of security in a new place.
- Consider connecting with other families in groups like Cochear Kids Australia. As well as answering questions it’s a nice way of possibly connecting and making friendships with people who know the journey. Organising a play-date or meet-up when visiting a new place, not only gives you a local view of your destination but it can be a really special travel experience for kids to meet people just like them.
- Cinemas, theatres and other venues can often organise a closed caption device and provide seating which allows for optimal hearing. Hearing aid loops and infrared transmitters turn on the hearing.
- In case of an emergency, talk through appropriate strategies with your child for hypothetical situations like what to do if they get separated from you, what to do if they can’t hear.
Thanks to Helen for sharing her tips. Helen is a mother to her an unstoppable, confident, caring six year old daughter Harley. Harley was born with profound hearing loss that was picked up a couple of days after birth. Harley has bilateral Cochlear Implants which she got at 2 & 3 years old.