VALIDATING HEARING AID FITTING THROUGH LENA TECHNOLOGY
The current practice after hearing aid fitting relies upon parent report of the auditory development of the child, hours per day when the hearing aid is used and benefit from amplification. As discussed earlier, there are some significant limitations to this approach.
Optimal auditory development is dependent, not only on the appropriateness of the hearing aid fitting, but also in the quality of the daily auditory learning environment of the child. It has not previously been possible to objectively evaluate the auditory learning environment until the development of LENA technology.
LENA is a technology is a digital language processor worn on a vest or t-shirt that is capable of recording 10-16 hours of a child’s day and the software can analyze the frequency of adult words, conversational turns, child vocalizations, the quality of child vocalizations, percentage of the day with meaningful language (within an audible range of the child), in silence, noise, or TV/radio. Parents are not able to reliably report this data that is crucial to understanding how amplification is used in the child’s daily life. The technology has normative data on over 3000 children with typical development and NH. Because the purpose of appropriate and early amplification fitting is to optimize a child’s ability to access and learn spoken language, it is important to know how the use of that amplification is impacting the daily life of the child.
Aragon & Yoshinaga-Itano (2012) demonstrated that LENA can provide information about children who are deaf or hard of hearing that can support the development of spoken language with amplification. When a child with HL is not making optimal or anticipated gains in the development of auditory skill and spoken language, audiologists often question the appropriateness of the amplification fitting. Hearing aids today can track usage of the device, but they are not capable of determining the noise environment, the amount of TV exposure, or the amount of spoken language exposure for an individual child. LENA technology can provide the audiologist with this information.
In order for this technology to be clinically available to families who have children who are deaf or hard of hearing, the analyses and reports need to be adapted specifically for these children. LENA technology has been used to improve amplification fitting by demonstrating that there were unacceptable noise levels in the home environment. The noise could not reduced but fitting of personal frequency modulated devices fit to their current amplification assured that the infants/toddlers could access their parents’ spoken language in a noisy environment.
This research project supported the development of LENA SP. More information about the cloud-based system developed for children with disabilities, including children who are deaf or hard of hearing for families who are involved in early intervention services can be found at the following website http://www.lena.org/products/#lena-sp