Audiology Services for Children

A hearing problem can be hard to see. Hearing loss is an invisible condition that interferes with communication—our most human quality. Research shows that hearing loss may affect school performance, social relationships, job productivity and emotional well-being. People of all ages can have hearing problems.

What services does All Children’s Audiology Program provide?

We offer many services for children and adults:

  • Hearing screening and evaluation
  • Auditory brainstem response (ABR) evaluation
  • Auditory steady state response (ASSR) evaluation
  • Auditory processing disorder (APD) evaluation
  • Otoacoustic emissions (OAE) evaluation
  • Hearing aid evaluation
  • Hearing aid dispensing and fitting
  • Hearing aid repair
  • Assistive devices: demonstration and dispensing
  • Workshops, seminars and presentations for community groups, teachers and parent

A physician may refer you to our Audiology Services program, or you may contact us directly. We are happy to work together with other community health resources and facilities interested in hearing and communication disorders.

What are the signs of hearing disorders in children?

Infants and toddlers with a hearing problem may:

  • Not always respond to sounds
  • Not be startled by sudden loud noises
  • Seem to have speech and language problems
  • Have had several ear infections

School-age children with a hearing problem may:

  • Often turn their ear toward the person who is speaking or toward the source of noise
  • Not hear the telephone or doorbell ring
  • Frequently ask people to repeat words or phrases
  • Play music or TV too loud
  • Misunderstand or be confused about what someone says
  • Have had several ear infections

What are some common hearing disorders?

Some of the most common hearing problems are:

Conductive hearing disorders
In this kind of hearing problem, sound is not conducted effectively through the outer and/or middle ear. As a result, speech and other sounds seem muffled or less clear. This kind of hearing loss often can be medically or surgically corrected.

Sensorineural disorders
People with this kind of hearing loss hear certain sounds less clearly than others. They have a hard time understanding speech because it sounds distorted. The problem is caused by damage to the inner ear or the nerve pathways from the ear to the brain. A hearing aid or other amplification device can help people with this problem.

Mixed hearing disorders represent a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing problems. The conductive hearing loss can be helped medically, while a hearing aid can help with the sensorineural hearing loss.

Auditory processing disorders
An auditory processing disorder is not a true hearing problem but is a problem processing information that is heard. An auditory processing disorder can lead to problems in school for children or at work for adults. People with auditory processing disorders may have difficulties with remembering information, listening when there is background noise, or with academic skills such as reading and writing. An evaluation can help identify these problems and suggest ways to manage them, such as speech-language therapy.

What causes hearing disorders?

Many different problems can cause hearing loss. These include: chronic ear infections, heredity, birth defects, health problems at birth, certain drugs, head injuries, viral or bacterial infections, exposure to loud noise, aging and tumors.

How can a hearing problem be identified?

An audiologist is a professional who is trained in the study of normal hearing and hearing problems. Our All Children’s Hospital audiologists can:

  • Determine if someone has a hearing problem
  • Identify the type of hearing disorder
  • Recommend how to make the best use of remaining hearing
  • Help select and fit the hearing aid that will best meet a person’s needs
  • Demonstrate and teach how to use a hearing aid effectively

At what age can hearing be tested?

Hearing can be tested at any age. Even a tiny newborn can have an accurate hearing test. For infants this young we can use one of two methods: otoacoustic emissions (OAE) evaluation or auditory brainstem response evaluation (ABR testing). The audiologist can explain how these techniques measure a child’s hearing.

For children who are at least six months old, we can use game-like activities and other techniques to get accurate information about their hearing.

Older children can have their hearing tested in one of our state of- the-art sound booths.