WHY EVERY CHILD NEEDS A HEARING TEST
When your child does not seem to respond to a variety of speech sounds and hearing loss is suspected, that is surely a concern for every parent. Hearing is critical for a child’s speech- language development; so much so that even a mild or partial hearing loss may result in a speech and language delay. Therefore, a child who doesn’t consistently respond to sound and/or vocalize should undergo a complete audiological evaluation in addition to seeing a pediatrician and an ENT.
WHAT IS A COMPLETE AUDIOLOGICAL EVALUATION?
An audiological assessment is a painless hearing test measuring a child's ability to hear different speech sounds, which blend together to comprise words, phrases, and sentences. Each speech sound corresponds to its unique frequency. Breakdowns in hearing at any given frequency may mean inability to detect certain sounds (for example, fricative sounds /s, sh, f/ are considered low frequency sounds and might be difficult to hear for some children). A complete audiological evaluation takes anywhere between 30-60 minutes and helps map sound perception for each child.
WHY IS AN AUDIOLOGICAL EVALUATION NECESSARY (ESPECIALLY WITH CHILDREN WHO ALREADY PRESENT WITH SPEECH LANGUAGE DELAYS)?
An audiological evaluation is used to determine how well a person is able to hear various sounds as well as to determine the type, severity, and cause of hearing loss. There are also specifically a speech perception test, which is a test to assess one's ability to perceive and discriminate speech sounds. Speech perception test tells us about the functioning and/ or a need for hearing aids or even a cochlear implant.
AUDIOLOGICAL TESTS TYPICALLY USED:
The selection of tests for audiological evaluation depends on the patient’s age, symptoms, residual hearing, and medical history. The audiologist will determine the hearing threshold and if the hearing loss is conductive or sensorineural.
Following are different types of audiological tests.
· Bone Conduction Testing
· Comprehensive audiology evaluation.
On an audiogram, hearing levels indicate the amount of speech and sounds that can be heard. General categories of an audiogram can be expressed as:
Normal Hearing-hears sounds of every pitch at a soft level
Mild Hearing Loss-hears most speech sounds from a close distance
Moderate Hearing Loss- hear vowel sounds (louder sounds) in speech
Severe Hearing Loss- hear loud environmental sounds
ProfoundHearing Loss- hear extremely loud sounds