No child is too young for a hearing test! Infants are now routinely screened for potential hearing loss before they leave the hospital. The type of test used to assess a child's hearing status depends on the age and cognitive function of the child. Infants are tested in two ways: behaviorally and/or electrophysiologically.
Behavioral observation assessment (BOA) testing is conducted by an audiologist specially trained to detect bodily reactions to sound i.e. cessation of activity, body movement, eye widening, eye opening, or change in sucking rate.
The Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR)
As children mature, so does their ability to respond to sound. At approximately six to seven months of age, normally-developing children are able to turn toward a sound source. Children at this level are tested either using earphones or in the sound booth without earphones but using speakers. Sounds used for testing typically include low pitch to high pitch tones that are included in the speech range. Turning toward the sound source is reinforced with a lighted toy. This type of testing is called visual reinforcement audiometry (VRA) and is generally quite accurate in determining hearing levels.
By approximately 2 1/2 - 3 years of age most children can be tested using a technique called conditioned play audiometry. Earphones are placed on the child and she/he is conditioned to play various games when the test tone is heard. Traditional or standard audiometry is used with older children and adults. This method requires the patient to press a response button or raise a hand when the test test tone is heard.
Basic audiogram : This test determines the patient's hearing ability relative to normal adult hearing levels to determine if there is a hearing loss, where it occurs and its type or classification. This information is critical to determine if medical or surgical intervention is possible or if hearing aids may help. Enhanced communication strategies may also be discussed during this session.
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