Testing for Hearing Loss
There is no need to worry if your child does need a hearing test. There are several methods available to test newborns and young children, none of which will hurt or harm your child.
- ABR (Automated Brain Stem Response): ABR is a simple test in which sounds are presented to the child through earphones while the child sleeps or rests. The baby's brainstem response is measured by small electrodes taped to the baby's head.
- OAE (Otoacoustic Emissions): This test measures the function of the inner ear by insertion of a small probe tip into the baby's ear canal.
- Behavioral Testing: Your child must be able to turn his or her head in response to a sound or be able to play a game for this test to be done. A measurement will be taken to determine the softest sound your child can hear, his or her ability to understand words, and to determine if there is any obstruction in the middle ear.
If your child is found to have a hearing loss, the audiologist will help you determine the best way to help your child hear better. There are many options available from hearing aids to surgical devices. Children as young as four weeks can be fitted with a hearing-aid device.
The most important aspect to remember in dealing with a child whom you suspect has a hearing loss is to act immediately. Even if you are first told everything is fine or to "wait and see" and you are uncomfortable with this response, seek out another trained professional.
When considering the many areas in which a child's life can be affected by even a mild hearing loss, acting early and being persistent can make a great difference. Early intervention can significantly improve your child's ability to succeed when learning speech and language, as well as improve his or her social, emotional, and educational development.