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Children's hearing services

The service provides an audiological assessment and management for children. We can see children from newborn to school leaving age. Our team has considerable knowledge and experience in the assessment of children's hearing and the appropriate management of those children identified with a hearing impairment.

All babies are offered a newborn hearing screening test. When possible, this will be done on the maternity unit before the baby has been discharged home. You may also have this done at a local health centre, clinic or hospital at a more convenient time. If you are not sure if your baby has had this test please look in your baby's 'red book' or ask your health visitor.

Some babies are offered a second test at eight months of age, usually as they are at slightly higher risk of having a hearing loss developing in the first few months of life. Invite letters will be sent to all babies requiring this test at 6-8 months of age (corrected age if a baby is premature).

The next test offered to all children is when they start school.

Any child who does not pass their screening test will be offered a referral to their local Audiology Department for further hearing assessment.

If you are concerned about your children's hearing, there are a number of other ways they can be referred into our service, these include:

  • GP
  • Paediatrician or Consultant
  • Health Visitor or School Nurse
  • Other Health Professionals

During an appointment you will see one or two members from our team of specialised paediatric audiologists who are trained in testing children's hearing. The appointment will usually last about 30 minutes, and sometimes we may need to bring you back for further appointments if necessary.

We will ask you some questions about your child's hearing, development, medical history and any family history of hearing problems.

Depending on your child's age we will try and test their hearing by getting them to respond to a sound in some way, known as behavioural testing. This often includes some form of play therefore it is important that your child is awake. If the child is too young for the particular test or we are having difficulty getting them to co-operate, we can attempt to assess their hearing without them having to respond, known as objective testing.

The hearing test needs to be carried out in a quiet room, so if possible it is best to try to attend with only the child being tested. It is not possible to leave children unsupervised in the waiting area, but they are welcome to wait there if they are accompanied by an adult. All children aged 16 years and under must be accompanied by an adult.

These are the main types of behavioural tests we perform;

 

AGE*

HEARING TEST

Birth to
6 months

We will carry out an automatic test for which we require your baby to be asleep. (see objective testing)

6 Months to 2½ yrs

We will have your child sitting on your knee, and we will be playing with some basic toys on a table in front of them. We will encourage your child to turn to a sound and be rewarded with a cartoon image that will light up and animate. The sound will be generated through a speaker, small foam tips in their ears, or through a small headband behind their ear. We will be able to test their hearing by getting them to turn every time they hear the sound.

2½ yrs to 5 yrs

We will teach your child to play a game when they hear a sound this may involve a stacking, building or jumping game. The sound will be generated either through a speaker, small foam tips in their ears, headphones or a small headband behind their ear. We will be able to test their hearing by getting them to play the game every time they hear the sound.

5 yrs+

We will have your child wear a set of small foam tips, headphones or a small headband behind their ear and play sounds directly into their ears. We will get them to respond by pressing a button when they have heard the sound.

* Ages are approximate and can vary depending on each individual child

We may carry out a test to see if there is any congestion behind your child's eardrums. This involves placing a small tip into the edge of the ear and puffing a small amount of air into the ear canal.

We may also play a game to see how your child responds to speech sounds. Depending on their age this may involve pointing to a toy, a picture or repeating a word.

These are the main types of objective test we perform;

1. Oto-acoustic emissions

2. Auditory Brain Stem Response

The test can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours and on some occasions a second appointment may be required to complete the testing.

To obtain the most accurate results for these tests we require your child to be asleep during the testing. We may need to clean areas of your child's skin on their forehead and behind their ears.

It is important that the room is quiet throughout testing and that your baby is asleep, therefore it is advisable not to bring other children to the appointment however we are happy for you to bring a friend or relative if you wish to.

We may carry out a test to see if there is any congestion behind your child's eardrums. This involves placing a small tip into the edge of the ear and puffing a small amount of air into the ear canal.

After any testing, we will discuss the results with you and advise you if any further testing needs to be carried out. All relevant information will be passed to the necessary professionals as required.

'I feel it is important to relay my experience back to let the staff know they are doing a brilliant job! I would like them to know I appreciated all they did for myself, my family and our beautiful baby girl.'

Patient, Labour Ward, Darlington Memorial Hospital