Pediatric Audiology

A child’s quality of life and development vitally depends on hearing. They learn to speak because they hear others and themselves communicate. Hearing helps them learn to read, to appreciate music, and to receive warnings of approaching harm. A child will have difficulty coping with many of life’s challenges and opportunities at home and in school without good hearing.

Signs of Hearing Problems

The single most important sign of hearing loss in children is the failure to develop, or the delayed development of spoken language.

If a child has severe or profound hearing loss, it is usually obvious that they do not respond to sound. Sometimes it is difficult to detect mild forms of hearing loss, including hearing loss in only one ear. Even the more common forms of mild hearing loss, however, can negatively impact communication development and school performance.

Common warning signs for hearing loss include:

  • Family member or teacher concerns regarding:
    • Hearing acuity
    • Delays or differences in speech and language development
    • Attention or behavioral difficulties
    • Academic performance
  • Inappropriate, delayed, or lack of response to soft and moderate-level sounds: speech or environmental when distractions are minimal
  • Use of “what?” or “huh?” frequently
  • Intently watching the faces of speakers
  • Difficulty understanding speech in background noise
  • Sitting close to the TV set when the volume is adequate for others; increasing TV or stereo/CD player volume to unreasonably loud levels
  • Not responding to voices over the telephone or switching ears continually when the phone is utilized
  • Not being startled by intense sounds
  • Inability to locate the source of sound accurately

Newborn Hearing Screening

Today, hospitals perform hearing screening for the vast majority of newborns before they’re discharged from the hospital. Two types of objective test technologies are used to screen for hearing loss in newborns: otoacoustic emissions and the auditory brainstem response (sometimes called ABR or BAER test). These screening tests can detect 80-90% of infants with moderate degrees of hearing loss and greater. However, no screening test is perfect. Children with mild hearing loss may pass newborn hearing screening. Newborn hearing screening cannot identify children with late onset or progressive types of hearing loss.

Even when an infant passes a hearing screening test in the hospital, it is important to monitor developmental milestones for hearing, language and speech. If your child was born with visual, cognitive or motor disabilities, a comprehensive audiological evaluation would be important to ensure that your child’s hearing is completely normal.

Even a Young Child’s Hearing Can Be Evaluated

We can asses your child’s hearing at any age in a soundproof test booth. We utilize both objective and subjective age-appropriate audiologic test technologies:

  • Behavioral Observation Audiometry (Birth to 8 months) – We assess the infant’s responsiveness to sound observing their bodily reactions, such as body movement, eye widening, eye blink, chanes in sucking and breathing, and startle. We may accomplish this through either loudspeakers or headphones.
  • Visual Reinforcement Audiometry (8 months to 2-1/2 years) – We seat the baby on the parent’s lap between right and left loudspeakers, or using earphones. When a sound is presented at a level loud enough for theĀ  baby to hear, he or she will turn their head or shift their eyes towards the sound.
  • Play Audiometry (2-1/2 years to 5 years) – We can measure exact hearing threshholds by asking the child to play hearing games. The games are the equivalent of the more adult “press the button” or “raise your hand” techniques in response to sounds.

If you suspect a hearing problem in your child, you really shouldn’t delay having their hearing tested. If there is hearing loss, we can diagnose the condition with audiologic and medical assessments and prescribe the most appropriate treatment. There’s no reason for a child’s development to be handicapped by an untreated hearing loss.