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of North Mississippi for over 20 years

Taking Your Child to the Audiologist

young child sitting for hearing examination

Children need to have their hearing checked regularly. Babies will typically have this done in a hospital. Toddlers will usually be taken to see an audiologist. Older children may be taken to see an audiologist. Sometimes they may do both. With that in mind, here is a quick guide to taking your child to the audiologist.

Newborns

If you give birth in a hospital, your baby’s hearing will usually be checked before you are discharged. If it isn’t, or if you have a home birth, you’ll usually be called in for an appointment with an audiologist. This will generally be when your child is only a few weeks old. It will almost certainly be before your child is three months old.

Since your baby will be so young, there will be nothing you can really do to prepare them for the appointment. It is, however, very important that you take them to it. If your baby does have a hearing issue then having it diagnosed early can help a lot with treatment. The screening is completely painless and harmless.

For completeness, sometimes an initial newborn hearing screen gives inconclusive results. There’s nothing to worry about here. You will be offered another screening. This may be at the same time or on another date. If it is another date, then, again, make sure you remember to go to the appointment.

Toddlers

Your toddler’s first visit to the audiologist really is likely to set the tone for future visits. In fact, it’s fair to say that it may influence how well they look after their hearing for the rest of their lives. It’s therefore very useful if you, as a parent, can prepare your toddler for the visit to the audiologist. 

Hearing Tests for Toddlers

The two main kinds of hearing tests for toddlers are called visual reinforcement audiometry (VRA) and play audiometry. VRA tends to be used between the ages of about six months and two-years. Play audiometry tends to be used between the ages of about one and five. Toddlers between the age of about one and two may have either or both tests.

With VRA your child will be taught to connect hearing a sound with some kind of visual stimulus. This will usually be turning on a light, maybe on a toy or a computer screen. Once the audiologist is confident that the connection has been made, they will try playing your child sounds with different volumes and pitches. This will identify their audio range.

With play audiometry, your child is asked to complete a fun task every time a sound is played. As play audiometry is typically used on older toddlers and young children, it’s generally easy to get them to make the connection. Again, once the audiologist is happy your child understands the process, they’ll play a range of sounds to identify your child’s hearing range.

Your audiologist may also carry out a bone-conduction test and a tympanometry test. These are both tests to assess the physical condition of your child’s ear. The bone-conduction test looks for issues with the ear bones. The tympanometry test examines the flexibility of your child’s eardrum.

Preparing Your Child for Their Visit to an Audiologist

Depending on your child’s age, you may want to let them know in advance that they’re going to have a hearing test. Explain to them at least the basics of what they can expect and why it matters.

Make sure that they’re comfortable with having their ears touched. Your audiologist will do everything possible to make your child comfortable. At the end of the day, however, this will still be your child’s first experience with them so they’ll be dealing with a stranger. Try examining your child’s ears and perhaps having other people do it too. Have your child examine other people’s ears.

Similarly, make sure that your child is happy wearing headphones or earbuds. Your audiologist may tell you in advance whether they plan to use headphones or earbuds. If they don’t, you can try contacting them to ask. If you can’t find out in advance and only have time to get your child used to one option, then go for headphones.

Get your child used to responding to audio cues. With very young toddlers, you may need to stick with just drawing their attention to sounds so they begin to grasp the idea of active listening. With older toddlers, you can practice having them perform actions on a cue and also have them repeat words when asked.

If you’d like to learn more about taking your child to the audiologist, please contact Hearing Aid Consultants of North Mississippi at (662) 234-1337.