When your child comes to the Hearing & Balance Center of Austin, we know you’re placing your trust in us. This trust and our dedication to improving the health of your child is what inspires us to provide exceptional care and the most satisfying experience possible to families in the greater Austin area. All of our audiologists hold Board Certification in Pediatrics to ensure that your children are in the best hands possible.
We use state-of-the-art technology and innovative testing techniques to assess your child’s hearing sensitivity. We can evaluate and treat hearing at any age, beginning at birth.
Hearing Loss and Children
Although loss can occur at any age, hearing difficulties at birth or that develop during infancy and the toddler years can have serious consequences.
This is because normal hearing is initially needed to understand spoken language and then, later, to produce clear speech. Consequently, if your child experiences hearing loss during infancy and early childhood, it demands immediate attention. Even a temporary but severe hearing loss during this time can make it very difficult for the child to learn proper oral language.
Most children experience mild hearing loss when fluid accumulates in the middle ear from allergies or colds. This hearing loss is usually only temporary; normal hearing commonly resumes once the cold and allergies subside and the Eustachian tube (which connects the middle ear to the throat) drains the remaining fluid into the back of the throat. In many children, perhaps 1 in 10, fluid stays in the middle ear following an ear infection because of problems with the Eustachian tube.
These children don’t hear as well as they should, and sometimes have delays in talking. Even mild hearing loss can affect a child’s ability to speak and understand language, as well as impact behavioral development. Much less common is the permanent kind of hearing loss that always endangers normal speech and language development. Permanent hearing loss varies from mild or partial to complete or total.
When Should My Child Have A Hearing Test?
No child is too young to have a hearing evaluation. Screening should start at birth and continue on a regular basis throughout life.
A child’s hearing should be tested immediately if there are any risk factors for hearing loss such as:
- family history of hearing loss
- ear, head, or neck malformations
- head trauma
- history of anoxia or infection at birth
- history of the use of ototoxic medications (when a medication damages the inner ear)
- recurrent ear infections
- speech and language developmental delays
- changes in hearing (for example: listening to the television at high volume, talking loudly, or not responding when the child's name is called)
In addition, certified audiologists can also help diagnose and develop treatment plans for children with auditory processing disorders (APD), auditory neuropathy spectrum disorders (ANSD), and balance (vestibular) disorders.
At Hearing & Balance Center of Austin, we provide diagnostic services for ANSD, concussion and balance disorders.
We recommend anyone seeking APD testing to contact the University of Texas Audiology Department at (512) 471-3841.
Pediatric Audiology Tests Performed
- Newborn Hearing Testing
- Visual Response Audiometry (VRA)
- Conditioned Play Audiometry (CPA)
- Select Picture Audiometry (SPA)
- Comprehensive Audiometry
- Tympanometry and Acoustic Reflex (Immittance)
- Speech Reception and Speech Detection
- Eustation Tube Function Testing (age dependant)
- Auditory Steady State Response (ASSR)
- Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR/BAER)
- Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE)
- In-house Sedated ABR services
If your child is under age two, or is uncooperative during her hearing examination, she may be given one of two available tests, which are the same tests used for newborn screening. They are painless, and can be performed while your child is sleeping or lying still. They are:
- The auditory brainstem response test, which measures how the brain responds to sound. Clicks or tones are played into the baby’s ears through soft earphones, and electrodes placed on the baby’s head measure the brain’s response. This allows the audiologist to test your child’s hearing without having to rely on her cooperation.
- The otoacoustic emissions test, which measures sound waves produced in the inner ear. A tiny probe is placed just inside the baby’s ear canal, which then measures the response when clicks or tones are played into the baby’s ear.
The consequences of undiagnosed hearing loss are so serious that your audiologist may advise you to return to have a more diagnostic test perfomed to confirm whether your child's hearing is impaired