The Paediatric Audiology Service provides audiological assessment and treatment for children from newborn to adulthood. The team works in close conjunction with Teachers of the Deaf, Paediatricians, Social Services and ENT consultants. Referrals can be accepted from GPs, Paediatricians, Speech and Language Therapists, Health visitors, school nurses and other professionals.
When you attend the Audiology Department your child’s hearing will be assessed using one or more of the following diagnostic tests:
- Visual Reinforcement Audiometry. A test of your child’s hearing by observing their physical response to specific sounds, and rewarding the correct response with an animated toy. This test is performed from 8 months of age onwards.
- Tympanometry. A test to assess the function of the middle ear. A probe with a soft tip is placed in the outer ear canal for a few seconds; your child may hear a soft humming sound. This is used to detect ‘Glue ear’. More information about glue ear can be found in our information leaflets section. This test is performed on all age ranges.
- Pure Tone Audiometry (PTA). In children, this test can be performed by pressing a button in response to hearing a sound through headphones. More often in younger children, we swap the button for something more interesting, such as stacking blocks, or even playing Pop-Up Pirate! Typically, this test is introduced from around 3 years of age.
Does my child need a hearing test?
Do you have any of the following concerns:
- I feel my child doesn’t always respond when called or talked to.
- My child has had severe earaches and/or several ear infections.
- I feel my child’s speech isn’t progressing.
- My child asks for things to be repeated or mishears what is being said.
- School or nursery has mentioned they feel he/she isn’t hearing as well.
- My child sits very close to the television and has to have the volume raised.
- I have to get their attention before I ask a question
- If I call my child from another room they don’t seem to hear me
- I’ve had a letter from school saying that my child has failed a hearing test.
- Any other parental concerns (a hearing loss can affect not only speech and language development, but other areas of development as well.)
If so, we would recommend obtaining a referral for your child to have their hearing assessed.
Newborn Hearing Screening Programme
The NHS Newborn Hearing Screening Programme ensures all parents are offered hearing screening for their new baby within the first few days or weeks of life. This may take place at your home by your Health Visitor. If your baby is in the Special Care Baby Unit for more than 48 hours they will be offered the screen by a qualified Audiology Screener.
The Local Newborn Hearing Screening co-ordinator is Hannah Garnett, Contact telephone: 0333 321 9552.
If your baby is referred to Audiology from the Newborn Hearing Screening Program the following tests may be performed – a fact sheet is available from the NHSP website (www.hearing.screening.nhs.uk)
- Auditory Brainstem Response test (ABR) involves small sensors being placed on your baby’s head. Headphones are placed over your baby’s ears and a series of sounds are played, whilst your baby is asleep. Our equipment measures the response of your baby’s brain and ears to sound. The appointment can take a few hours, which includes time to settle your baby and interpret and discuss the results with you.
- Otoacoustic Emissions. A soft tipped earpiece is placed in the entrance of the ear. A clicking sound is produced and the response from the inner ear is recorded. This can only be done if your child is quiet and settled or asleep, the recording takes a couple of minutes.
Children and Hearing Loss
If your child is diagnosed with a permanent hearing loss, the Audiologist will discuss with you and your family the various options available which may include the provision of hearing aids, or referral to relevant specialist agencies for alternative management of your child’s hearing loss.
If a hearing aid is indicated, an impression will be taken of the ear(s). A soft sponge will be placed into the ear canal, followed by putty like material to obtain the shape of the ear. This will be forwarded to be manufactured and an appointment will be mutually arranged for the aid to be fitted within three weeks. We are able to choose from a selection of colours for the ear mould and the hearing aid, depending on you or your child’s preference.
When the aid is fitted a senior audiologist will spend time with the parent/guardian and the child themselves explaining all about the hearing aid, how to get used to it, how to work it and how to insert it, amongst other information. A follow up appointment will be booked before you leave the fitting appointment and regular hearing tests will be scheduled.