Pediatric Hearing Evaluations
Infants hear and listen from the moment of birth. Because children learn to speak by listening to and imitating the sounds they hear, good hearing is essential for your baby to learn to talk. Evaluations and hearing tests for children can be performed at any age. There are many sophisticated tests that can determine the level of your child’s hearing. If you are concerned about your child’s hearing, contact our Audiology Department at 704-295-3300.
IS YOUR CHILD AT RISK FOR HEARING LOSS?
If any of the following statements apply to your child, you should strongly consider a complete audiologic evaluation regardless of the status of their universal newborn hearing screen results. It is vitally important that baseline information be obtained as early as possible.
- Family history of permanent childhood hearing loss
- In utero infection such as cytomegalovirus (CMV), rubella toxoplasmosis, or herpes
- Craniofacial abnormalities
- Neonatal indicators such as jaundice that require a blood transfusion, persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN) associated with mechanical ventilation or conditions requiring the use of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)
- Postnatal infections associated with hearing loss such as bacterial meningitis
- Findings associated with a syndrome known to include hearing loss such as neurofibromatosis, steoporosis, and Usher’s syndrome
- Developmental delays including speech and motor skills
Learn more about hearing loss here.
Visual Conditioned Response Audiometry (VRA Test)
VRA is a hearing test for children that is used from a few months of age up to approximately 2 or 3 years old. The child is seated at an angle to a speaker and animated toy. The child is monitored for either a conditioned response or other reactions to a variety of test sounds. The patient’s response levels are then adjusted for their developmental age and the hearing level is acquired.
Conditioned Play Audiometry
Conditioned play audiometry is a method of testing that is used as needed for young children. Motivational toys are used to teach a repeatable response to test the stimulus.
treating a child's hearing loss
An individualized plan of treatment, based on your child and their hearing loss, will be provided by your child’s ENT doctor or audiologist. As there are many different rehabilitative options, one or more of the following may be discussed.
Children with any degree of hearing loss that may impact their access to speech may be a candidate for hearing aids. Hearing aids aim to make sounds louder and clearer for your child, ensuring they are not missing important auditory information in their everyday environments.
A cochlear implant is a surgical option which bypasses or replaces the damaged hearing in the inner ear. Children with unilateral or bilateral severe to profound hearing loss may be a candidate for a cochlear implant, pending they meet candidacy criteria.
Bone-Conduction Sound Processors
Bone conduction sound processors may be an option for children with conductive hearing loss or single-sided hearing loss. Surgical and non-surgical options are available.
Hearing Assistive Technology
Hearing assistive technology, or FM systems, can be used independently or in conjunction with other rehabilitative options. Hearing assistive technology strives to reduce the impacts of background noise or distance, either at home or in a school environment.
An ENT doctor who specializes in child hearing problems may also see your child to determine if the problem may be fixed through medical or surgical treatment, such as ear tube surgery.
Communicating With Your Child
As your child grows and is learning speech and language, it will be important to use good communication with them. Children use all of their senses to learn language, including both their eyes and ears. The following are tips to promote good communication between you and your child.
- Get your child’s attention before starting a conversation
- Make sure you are facing your child and maintain good eye contact.
- Check your room lighting. Poor lighting or having your back to a window can create shadows and make it difficult for your child to see your facial expressions or lip read.
- Speak clearly and naturally, not just louder.
- Minimize background noise.
- Rephrase, instead of repeat, yourself when something is misunderstood. Use more common words or signs.
- Pause and check that your child has understood you, and that you have understood them.
Communicating with a child with hearing loss
There are four primary communication methods for children with hearing loss. Each communication method is tied to a different approach to language:
Listening and Spoken Language: This approach emphasizes the use of the auditory (hearing) system to learn spoken language. It incorporates the support of hearing technology such as hearing aids, assistive listening devices (such as an FM system), or cochlear implants.
Cued Speech/Language: Cued speech is a visual communication approach to provide information for children who may not be able to learn entirely through amplified hearing. Children who use Cued Speech also rely on listening and spoken language.
American Sign Language: American Sign Language is a visual communication language that is taught as a child’s primary language. English is often taught as a second language with this communication option.
Total Communication Method: An emphasis on including various types of visual communication, speech reading, speaking, and the use of amplification.