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Hearing Testing for Children

Reasons for Referral

Children are often referred for a hearing test after failing a hearing screening at the pediatrician’s office or at school. Other reasons for referral include speech and language delay, a family history of congenital hearing loss, risk factors for hearing loss (e.g., certain medications, genetic disorders, syndromes), recurring middle ear infections, and concerns about academic achievement.

What to Expect on Test Day

You will be asked to complete an intake and case history form at check-in. Please be prepared to discuss the following topics with the audiologist: pregnancy and birth history, results of newborn hearing screening, developmental milestones, past and current health status and medication use, familial hearing loss history, and any teacher concerns.

Hearing can be assessed at any age. No child is too young to have a full hearing assessment. Below are the tests we use to assess your child’s hearing. Sometimes we are able to complete all of the age-appropriate tests in one visit but often times, depending on age and cooperation, multiple visits are required. We try to make this time as fun for your child as possible! Please feel free to bring snacks and favorite toys to help comfort and relax your child.

  • Otoscopy: For children of all ages. A visual examination of the ear canal and ear drum using a lighted device called an otoscope.
  • Tympanometry: For children of all ages. A probe is placed in the ear canal to record movement of the ear drum, which is used to identify middle ear dysfunction (e.g., fluid behind the eardrum).
  • Otoacoustic Emissions: For children of all ages. A probe is placed in the ear canal to measure the inner ear’s response to sound.
  • Visual Reinforcement Audiometry: For children ages 6 months – 2.5 years. You and your child sit in a sound booth between two large speakers. The audiologist observes your child’s responses to speech and sounds representing different pitches, either presented through the speakers or through headphones if your child will wear them. Your child’s responses are reinforced with lighted toys and cartoons.
  • Conditioned Play Audiometry: For children ages 2.5-6 years. Testing takes place in a sound booth, most often with your child listening to speech and sounds through headphones. Your child will engage in a series of “listening games” while the audiologist records the levels at which sounds are heard. Your child may be asked to identify pictures in a book or repeat back words at varying intensity levels.
  • Conventional Audiometry: For older children and teens. Sounds representing a broad frequency range are presented through headphones. The patient raises their hand or presses a button upon hearing a sound, and the audiologist records the softest level at which sounds are heard. The patient is also instructed to repeat back monosyllabic recorded words, most often at a set intensity level, while the audiologist scores the number of words correctly repeated back.

After testing is complete, the audiologist will be able to describe the status of your child’s hearing. If hearing loss is indicated, you will be given full information regarding appropriate steps for follow-up. You will also be referred to our family counselors so that they may offer support.

Culturally Competent Services

The Center staff has extensive experience working with families of varying backgrounds and cultures. Our client coordinators, counselors, and audiologists offer services in American Sign Language, Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin), French, English, and Spanish. While we do our best to match you with a staff member who speaks your child’s primary language, it is your responsibility to bring a translator to your child’s appointment if necessary.


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