Concerned about your child’s hearing? We’re here to help
Children’s Hearing Tests At our Hearing Healthcare Centres
We welcome children of all ages. We work in child-friendly surroundings and try to make the appointments as comfortable and fun as possible.
Your child’s appointment will be tailored to their developmental age.
Children may only need a one-off ‘screen’, or a more in-depth series of tests with follow-ups to check their progress. With your permission, we will forward an explanatory report to the school or GP if further action is needed. Our methods are sensitive to the development of the child, the below age categories are therefore approximate.
Signs to look out for in older children may include:
- delayed speech development
- not responding when called
difficulty working out which direction a sound comes from
persistently turning the TV louder than other members of the family
changes in behaviour such as becoming tired and frustrated, poor concentration, preferring to play alone
changes in their educational progress
suffering frequent ear infections
In addition all children save those with contraindications such as a discharging ear will undergo tympanometry. We can also conduct word tests, including from age 18 months the McCormick Toy Test where like-sounding objects are presented for identification to the Manchester Picture Test where lists of 6 spoken words are matched to pictures and a child-friendly version of speech audiometry, 10 lists of 8 words requiring repetition of what was heard examining both vowel and consonant understanding.
New Born Hearing Screening
Most hospital trusts screen newborn babies hearing, days after birth. The screening is usually carried out by a trained screener using an Automated Auditory Brainstem Response (AABR) test
The AABR screening test works by recording brain activity in response to sounds. Sound travels through the outer ear as vibrations. When it reaches the cochlea it is converted into an electrical signal. This travels along the nerve of hearing to the brain where it processed into recognizable sounds.
The AABR test does this by playing a series of clicking sounds through headphones that cover the baby’s ears. Three small sensors are placed on the baby’s head and connected to the computer equipment. If the hearing system is working normally then the computer will report strong responses. If there is no strong response then the computer will report that a referral should be made.
Around 3% of babies will go on to be referred for a full diagnostic assessment of the hearing.
Diagnostic assessment of hearing
Babies who do not show strong responses to the new born hearing screening test will be referred on for a full diagnostic new born hearing assessment. This can be offered in our Oxford clinic or sometimes offered at home. One to two babies in every 1000 born will have some level of hearing loss in one or both ears.
The diagnostic assessment will include tympanomenty, otoacoustic emission (OAE) test and auditory brainstem response (ABR) testing.
Otoacoustic Emissions (OAEs)
This is an objective test often performed on children to measure the outer hair cell function of the cochlea (the auditory part of the inner ear). Stimulation of the normal cochlea results in the transmission of an electrical impulse along the auditory nerve through the brain to the auditory cortex where it is perceived as sound. At the same time some sound (cochlear echo) is reflected from the cochlea to the external canal and can be measured by a sophisticated recorder.
This test takes just 10 minutes. A small soft-tipped earpiece is placed in your baby’s ear and gentle clicking sounds are played. When an ear receives sound, the inner part of the ear (called the cochlea) responds. This can be picked up by the screening equipment. This test is pain free and harmless for your baby.
The ABR test involves placing three small sensors on your baby’s head and neck. Soft headphones are placed over your baby’s ears and gentle clicking sounds are played. This test takes between 5 and 15 minutes. Again this test is painless and causes no discomfort to your baby.
Results of your baby’s hearing test will be given to you as soon as the test(s) are finished. If your baby has a clear response in both ears, they are unlikely to have permanent hearing loss.
(Please note, the newborn hearing test doesn’t pick up all types of permanent hearing loss. Children can also develop permanent hearing loss later on in life, so it is vital to check your child’s hearing regularly as they grow up.)
If the screening test results do not show a clear response from one or both of your baby’s ears, we will discuss this with you in detail at the appointment with further recommendations.
To make an appointment with our Paediatric Hearing Specialists, please email firstname.lastname@example.org