Ovens & Murray Advertiser - North East Regional Extra
Testing children’s hearing
MANY adults may have some idea about what is involved for them to have a hearing test - push a button when you hear a range of beeps.
It can be quite a different experience for younger children.
For children between about six months of age and school entry, the hearing test is frequently designed as a game.
Audiologists are experienced at working out the relevant test procedures for each individual client, although not all clinics are equipped to assess children’s hearing.
Newborn babies have a hearing check in the first few days of life, usually at the hospital.
This involves testing the response of the brain to sound while the baby is asleep to show whether hearing is adequate in each ear for speech and language development.
For an infant who can sit unsupported, warbled tones are presented through speakers on each side of the child.
Each time the child turns their head to correctly localise the sound, they are rewarded.
Most young children are sufficiently interested in this game to respond even when the tone is very soft and a good indication about the hearing can be obtained.
This task can be used to show whether hearing is adequate for speech and language development.
As the young child gets a little older, often around age three, a different technique is used.
We call it ‘play audiometry’. They are encouraged to make a play action, like putting a peg into a board or a block into a bucket, each time they hear a sound.
This test can identify whether hearing is normal
Around the time of school entry, a child can respond in much the same way as adults might be asked to do, without the game.
For both school-aged children and adults, we also check the clarity of what is heard using some words at soft levels.
At any age, another test, called tympanometry,
is used to show how the middle ear is functioning.
Inserting a small tip into the ear canal and changing the pressure gently against the eardrum provides information about whether any middle ear fluid or ear popping problems exist.
This test is very handy to see whether children’s middle ear problems have resolved.
Please let us know if you have concerns
about your child’s hearing at any age.
Other reasons for concern might be some delay in speech and language development or middle ear infections.
There is a test available for every age and ability level and we find that many parents enjoy watching their children respond during a test.
Our clinic phone number is (03) 5722 4433.