According to the National Institutes of Health, the most important time for a child to develop language is within the first three years of life. Hearing is critical to that development and getting your child’s hearing evaluated can be the first step in that care. The specialists at Hearing Health USA offer pediatric hearing health care at select locations.
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Newborn Hearing Screenings
Newborn hearing screenings are typically completed in the hospital prior to a baby being sent home. If a baby passes the newborn hearing screening, audiologic follow up is recommended at the audiologist’s discretion based on the baby’s medical and family history.
If a baby does not pass the newborn hearing screening in one or both ears, further testing is warranted. The follow up testing is often recommended a few weeks after hospital discharge on an outpatient basis. The audiologist will likely repeat the same type of test that was completed at birth and pending those results, will complete further testing.
The reasons a baby may not pass an initial hearing screening includes hearing loss, ear fluid, or testing conditions. If further testing confirms that a baby has hearing loss in one or both ears, amplification (hearing aids) may be pursued as soon as possible.
The Joint Committee on Infant Hearing Screening (JCIH) recommends all babies have their hearing screened by one month of age. Those who, are diagnosed with hearing loss should have intervention pursued by six months of age at the very latest.
Hearing and Speech & Language Development
If a child has either permanent or temporary hearing loss, it may impact their speech and language development milestones. Therefore, it is important to determine a child’s hearing abilities as early as possible. With proper intervention, it is likely that a child will be able to meet the same milestones as a normal hearing individual.
Hearing Screenings at School
Most school districts will conduct hearing screenings on all children once per year. These screenings are a good checkpoint to ensure a child is hearing within normal limits. If a child does not pass a hearing screening at school, this could be due to multiple factors. It is important to remember that hearing screenings at school are not typically completed in a sound-proof booth and outside noise can alter the results of the screening. If a child has an ear infection, cold or congestion, this can also alter the results of the hearing screen. If your child fails a school hearing screening, they will likely be re-screened in a few weeks at the school. If the child fails again, it may be recommended that your child follow up with an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor or an audiologist.
What to Expect at the Audiologist’s Office
An audiologist is a clinical doctor who specializes in hearing and balance disorders. An Audiologist will complete tests to determine if there is a hearing impairment. Depending on the age and developmental level of your child, different testing techniques will be completed.
Infants to 6 months old
Testing is usually completed while the child sleeps. If the baby is unable to be quiet and still during the testing, testing may not be able to be completed. Prior to testing, detailed instructions will be given to the caregiver regarding feeding and napping to help the Audiologist obtain test results.
Children aged 6 months to 2.5 years
Testing is usually completed in a sound booth with the child sitting on the caregiver’s lap. Sounds will be played from two speakers at different loudness levels. A response occurs when the child turns their head toward the sound. Unless headphones or ear inserts are used, the Audiologist is unable to determine which ear has responded.
Generally, children aged 3-5 years
Testing is usually completed in a game like format. The audiologist will sit with the child and ask the child to listen for a sound, then respond as part of the game. The audiologist may also play recorded words then ask the child to point to a corresponding picture.
Children aged 6+
Testing is completed similar to adult testing. The child will be asked to raise their hand when they hear a sound and repeat back the words as asked.
If you suspect that your child has a hearing loss please contact our office to schedule a complete hearing evaluation and consultation.