Can your child hear?
It can often be hard to identify whether or not your child is struggling with their hearing. Sometimes, they are too young to communicate, or, they are unaware there is a problem, so they shy away and try to deal with it silently themselves.
Attune Hearing audiologists work with children of all ages from babies to teenagers and can quickly identify with the appropriate hearing test whether your little (or big) one is experiencing hearing difficulty.
What are the signs of hearing loss in babies or children?
- Speaks loudly or whispers while speaking.
- Likes the TV or music played louder than usual or louder than others in the family.
- Speech development stops or is slow compared to other children of the same age.
- Little or no babbling.
- Appears inattentive, restless or expresses some behavioural problems.
- Does not respond to speech from behind or soft speech.
- Problems learning at school.
- Pulls at their ears (may be a sign of an ear infection).
An untreated hearing problem can slow the development of speech, language, and learning skills. It can also have a profound effect on your child’s confidence, social skills and progress in the classroom. Early intervention can have such a positive impact on every aspect of your child’s life and increase overall happiness and wellbeing dramatically.
What makes my child more at risk?
- Frequent ear infections.
- Deafness in the family.
- Prematurity (born too early) or complications at birth.
- Meningitis or encephalitis (infection of the brain and/or its coverings).
- Viral infections during pregnancy eg. rubella, cytomegalovirus (CMV).
- Exposure to very loud sounds or noises even of brief duration.
The effect of hearing loss on language development
Subtle stresses and tones may be missed or misinterpreted. This can lead to confusion in word naming categorisation, and high-level language skills (eg. humour or multiple meanings).
Soft ‘filler words’ such as conjunctions (and, or), prepositions (on, above), & articles (a, the) may be missed. This may lead to difficulty in identifying relationships between words & consolidating correct knowledge of the grammatical structure of sentences.
Why does my child need a Hearing Test?
A hearing test is vital for any child attending school or speech therapy.
- You want to ensure your child can hear the Speech Pathologist clearly. There is no point in attending school or (paying for) therapy sessions that your child can’t hear. A hearing test will give you peace of mind.
- You want to ensure poor hearing hasn’t contributed to your child’s speech / language difficulties. A hearing test will confirm or exclude hearing loss as a contributing factor to your child’s difficulties.
- You want to ensure your child can hear teachers, family and friends. Is your child behaving frustrated, inattentive or naughty? A hearing test will confirm or exclude hearing loss as a contributing factor to changes in behaviour or classroom performance.
Types of Children’s Hearing Tests
Before any hearing test, your Attune audiologist will start by asking some general questions about your child’s health, development and wellbeing to gain a holistic understanding of their current hearing capabilities and their overall health.
Visual Reinforcement Audiometry (VROA)
Age: 8 months – 3.5 years (An infant needs to be able to turn their head independently)
VROA is designed to capture the attention of little ones while conducting a hearing assessment using an engaging and non-invasive technique.
Your child responds to sounds presented through a loud speaker and is rewarded with a puppet show and lights.
(Central) Auditory Processing Disorder (C)APD
Age: 7 years and above
(C)APD testing is often recommended for children who may be experiencing learning difficulties in the classroom. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), children with (Central) Auditory Processing Disorder (C)APD often experience difficulties understanding and interpreting auditory information, even though there is no physical hearing loss.
Dysfunction or deficit within the system often presents as:
- Difficulty listening in a noisy environment, such as in the classroom.
- Difficulty understanding unclear speech.
- Difficulty following multi-step instructions.
- Difficulty with spelling and reading.
- Difficulty with direction of sound (localisation).
(C)APD can affect both adults and children. Its impact is often more prominent during the school years as (C)APD can affect academic performance.
The (Central) Auditory Processing system is complex and includes a number of specific auditory skills to help us ‘understand’ what we ‘hear’. The test battery assesses these skills and therefore the integrity of the auditory processing system.
(Central) Auditory Processing skills include:
- Auditory Closure – The ability of the brain to ‘fill in the gaps’ when a signal becomes degraded (eg. in background noise).
- Auditory Integration – The ability to understand everything that is heard in both ears at the same time.
- Auditory Separation – The ability to selectively attend to speech in one ear and ignore competing speech and noises in the other ear.
- Temporal Aspects of Processing Information – The ability to hear subtle differences in pitch between sounds as well as the duration and timing of sounds.
- Spatial Processing in Noise – Assesses the ability to understand speech when there is noise coming from different directions.
Pure Tone Audiogram (PTA)
Age: 6-7 years and above
Hearing Test – Your child listens to sounds that are played through headphones and is asked to respond by pressing a button.
Speech Discrimination Test – Your child is asked to repeat words heard through headphones.
Middle Ear Test – This is an automatic test where a small plug is placed in the child’s ear and measures eardrum movement. This helps us determine the nature of the hearing loss.
Age: 3.5 – 5 years
Hearing Test – Your child listens to sounds that are played through headphones and is asked to respond by placing a peg on a board or clapping their hands when a sound is heard.
Speech Discrimination Test – Your child is asked to repeat words or identify pictures of words heard through the headphones.
Middle Ear Test – Same as Pure Tone Audiogram
As a parent, you want to give your child every chance to flourish in all aspects of life. The gift of sound is such a vital sense in a child’s overall growth and development and one you need to nurture.