How well a child can hear sounds and understand speech.
Children are tested a bit differently. We take special care to ensure that our pediatric patients feel comfortable and relaxed throughout their visit. Depending on their age, your child may be tested with earphones or through sound speakers. They may be asked to point to familiar pictures on a card or identify parts of their body (i.e. "show me your nose, show me your eyes" etc.). The audiologist may use play audiometry tasks (having your child drop a block in a box in response to the tone) or Visual Reinforcement Audiometry (VRA) to test your child's ability to localize and respond to the test signal. Our audiologists are known for their patience and expertise when it comes to working with children.
What You Need to Know
Hearing is a crucial sense for children's development of speech, language, communication, and learning. Hearing loss can have significant impacts on a child's academic, social, and emotional well-being. Therefore, it is important to identify and treat hearing loss as early as possible.
What are pediatric hearing evaluations?
Pediatric hearing evaluations are tests that measure how well a child can hear sounds of different frequencies and intensities, and how well they can understand speech. These tests are performed by audiologists, who are professionals trained in diagnosing and treating hearing disorders.
Pediatric hearing evaluations are different from adult hearing tests because they require special techniques and equipment that are appropriate for children's age and developmental level. Depending on the child's age, cooperation, and hearing status, different types of tests may be used.
What types of tests are used in pediatric hearing evaluations?
Some of the common tests used in pediatric hearing evaluations are:
- Tympanometry: This test measures how well the eardrum and the middle ear function. A small probe is inserted into the ear canal and changes the air pressure. The probe measures how much sound is reflected by the eardrum. This test can detect problems such as ear infections, fluid buildup, or perforated eardrum.
- Behavioral observation audiometry (BOA): This test is used for infants who are too young to respond to other tests. The audiologist observes the child's behavior (such as eye movement, head turn, or startle) when sound is played through speakers or earphones. This test can provide a general estimate of the child's hearing sensitivity but cannot provide ear-specific or frequency-specific information.
- Visual reinforcement audiometry (VRA): This test is used for children who are 6 months to 2 years old. The child is trained to associate sound with a visual stimulus (such as a toy or a video) that is presented through speakers or earphones. The child is encouraged to look for the visual stimulus when sound is played. The audiologist varies the frequency and intensity of the sound to determine the child's hearing threshold.
- Conditioned play audiometry (CPA): This test is used for children who are 2 years old or older. The child is trained to perform a play activity (such as putting a block in a box or stacking rings) when sound is played through speakers or earphones. The audiologist varies the frequency and intensity of the sound to determine the child's hearing threshold.
- Speech audiometry: This test measures how well the child can understand speech at different levels of loudness. The child is asked to repeat words or sentences that are played through speakers or earphones. The audiologist records the percentage of words or sentences that the child repeats correctly.
Why are pediatric hearing evaluations important?
Pediatric hearing evaluations are important because they can help detect hearing loss early and provide appropriate intervention. Hearing loss can affect a child's ability to develop speech, language, communication, and learning skills. Early intervention can help prevent or minimize these effects and improve the child's quality of life.
If you suspect that your child has a hearing problem, you should consult your pediatrician or an audiologist as soon as possible. A comprehensive pediatric hearing evaluation can help diagnose the type and degree of hearing loss and provide recommendations for treatment and management.