Frequently Asked Questions - Pediatrics
Most deaf and hard of hearing children are born to hearing parents. It is natural for family members to feel a little overwhelmed and uncertain of what to expect. The MDHC team of professionals is prepared to support you on your journey! Here is a list of frequently asked questions but don't hesitate to call us if you need more information.
1) How will you test my child's hearing?
People often wonder how we complete a hearing test on older infants and young children who are too young to raise their hand when they hear the beep. Audiologists have developed different ways of collecting this information and our providers are experts at these techniques.
For infants and very young children, we teach them to associate the beeping sound with a flashing toy. The process looks like this:
- The audiologist makes a beep and flashes a toy (a teddy bear that lights up behind a screen, for example)
- The child looks in the direction of the toy and receives praise and clapping by the assistant for noticing the flashing toy.
- The audiologist makes the same beep and flashes the toy again.
- The child, again, looks in the direction of the toy and is excited by the clapping and praise of the assistant.
- The audiologist makes the beep and flashes the toy after a slight delay.
- The child, understanding that the beep and the toy are associated, starts to look in the direction of the toy before it lights up.
Once the child understands that a beep means the toy will flash, we begin to make the sound quieter and quieter. Children will continue to look towards the toy every time they hear the beep, even when the beep is extremely soft. This allows us to discover the quietest level at which the child hears. Watch this two-minute video demonstrating how to test the hearing of an infant.
Slightly older children may find the flashing toy too boring. With these children, we are able to play a more interactive game where they may throw a block into a bucket or place a peg into a hole every time they hear the beep. Most kids find this to be a fun game, and we are often able to get a lot of good information about their hearing abilities. Watch this video demonstrating our providers testing an older child.
Other tests are used in conjunction with behavioral testing to expand and cross check our results. These tests include tympanometry, which reveals the pressure behind the eardrum and can help assess the presence of middle ear fluid; otoacoustic emissions testing, which provides information regarding the health of the cochlea or inner ear; and auditory-evoked response testing, which demonstrates the quietest level at which sound information travels along the entire auditory system to the level of the brain.
2) Who can test my baby's hearing?
It is important that you find an audiologist who is experienced and skilled at working with young patients. Specialized equipment and techniques are necessary to accurately assess and diagnose infant hearing. If your audiologist isn’t familiar with young patients, ask for a referral to an experienced center.
3) What happens when a child with permanent hearing loss gets an ear infection?
The presence of middle ear fluid dampens the amount of sound that gets transmitted to the inner ear, causing greater hearing loss and reducing the benefit of your child’s amplification. It is important to seek prompt medical attention if an ear infection is suspected.
4) How often should my child's hearing be tested?
Children with hearing loss need frequent hearing tests! Because hearing loss can be progressive, it’s important to closely monitor changes in your child's hearing. As a rule, children should have their hearing assessed every 3-6 months, or sooner, if concerns arise. If you suspect your child's hearing has changed, do not delay seeing your audiologist.
5) At what age can my baby be fit with hearing aids?
Babies can be fit with hearing aids at any age—there’s no such thing as too young! It is, however essential, that your audiologist has determined the degree of hearing loss at various pitches to program technology appropriately.