Concerned About How Well Children Listen & Hear?
All children born in Australia after 2006 have had a hearing screening at birth. So why do kids have hearing tests after this initial newborn hearing screening?
Children can develop hearing loss after birth, the hearing screening may have shown a false negative result, or the hearing screening is not sensitive to some mild hearing losses at birth. It is important to have these children’s hearing tested so that their hearing does not negatively impact their speech, language and communication development.
It is also common for many children to experience temporary hearing losses due to otitis media or middle ear infections. This is often referred to as “glue ear”. Middle ear infection effects 80% of all children at some stage up to the age of 3 years. Some children recover with no intervention at all, while others may experience recurring and persist infections. When ear infections are recurring or persistant, it is essential to have the child’s hearing tested, as they may need to see an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist for medical opinion and treatment.
As a child’s doctor, you may notice signs from children that they are not hearing well, particularly when they are in noisy environments. For young children, signs that can indicate a hearing loss are that they don’t turn towards a noise, they don’t respond to their own name, or they are slow to develop speech. For older children, signs of a hearing loss may be that they are struggling with learning or spelling, they ask people to repeat things often or you feel as though they are inattentive or ignoring you or their teachers.
Victorian Hearing offers kids hearing tests from six months of age. A paediatric hearing test involves looking into the ear to visually observe the ear canal and ear drum, tympanometry which checks the middle ear and ear drum movement, and an age-appropriate hearing test depending on the individual child’s age and abilities. For young babies, we utilise puppets and exciting toys to teach the infant to provide a behavioural response when they hear a sound. This can be completed with babies at only six months of age. Toys and games are used in a kid’s hearing test with children aged approximately three years to six years of age. While children from approximately seven years and above can complete the same hearing test an adult would do, but perhaps with a bit more encouragement and motivation.
If you are concerned about a child’s speech and language development, it is essential that a hearing test is completed before seeing a speech pathologist. Ruling out a hearing loss is useful information prior to a child commencing speech therapy or other avenues of assistance the child may need to meet their milestones.
It is important to keep in mind that paediatric hearing tests assess the child’s ability to detect sounds. It does not look at how their brain processes and makes sense of the sounds they hear. If you are concerned about the child’s ability to make sense of and process sounds, we can complete an auditory processing assessment at Victorian Hearing following a standard hearing test. The audiologist will make this recommendation should they find this to be appropriate for the child. Please note this test is only available for children from seven years of age.
If you would like to have a child’s hearing tested, an appointment can be made today. For children under the age of four years old, these tests must be booked at our Clayton or Brighton clinics. While children over the age of four years old can be seen at all Victorian Hearing Clinics. Your patient can call or email us today to discuss their child’s hearing test needs. Contact links below.