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The Division of Audiology at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center provides answers to frequently asked questions.
Testing on infants is done while the infant is sleeping. Special equipment records the brain’s responses to sound. Hearing testing on children is performed by teaching them to play a listening game inside a very quiet room. These tests are painless.
Q: How old must a child be before a reliable hearing test can be obtained?
Children ranging in ages from newborn to 21 years of age are evaluated at our facility. No child is too young to have a hearing evaluation. An older child who is able to play games can be conditioned to respond when a sound is heard, point to pictures, or repeat words for evaluation of his hearing.
We provide hearing aid services, cochlear implant services and listening therapy, if needed. We will also help you and your child understand the impact of hearing loss on your family, social interactions and communication.
A parent or legal guardian must come with the child to the office visit. Please bring this information with you for your child’s visit:
Watch a short video about auditory brainstem response (ABR) testing.
An auditory brainstem response (ABR) test is a way to measure how well each ear can pick up sounds and how well the ear sends the information to the brain. ABR testing is commonly performed on infants and small children, or anyone who cannot or will not cooperate for hearing test procedures that require their participation.
Your child may be scheduled for ABR testing for the following reasons:
ABR testing is a harmless and painless procedure. The testing will be done by an audiologist. For children 6 months of age or older, your child will need to be asleep for testing therefore sedation is given. The testing will take place in a quiet room where small surface electrodes will be placed on the forehead and behind each ear. Once the child is asleep, earphones will be placed on the child for the test.
You will have the results the same day testing is done. The audiologist will explain the findings and answer questions you may have.
Watch a short video about aural rehabilitation.
Aural rehabilitation, also called audiologic habilitation, is a complete program for hearing impaired children and their families. The program focuses on using a form of amplification to make the best use of residual hearing. In aural rehabilitation, there are activities to help teach caregivers how to develop auditory skills and to create the best listening environment for their child.
All children with newly diagnosed hearing problems should have an aural rehabilitation evaluation.
Aural rehabilitation evaluations vary depending on the age of the child and reason for referral. The typical evaluation lasts about two hours. Your child should wear her amplification to this appointment.
During the evaluation, the audiologist will take a thorough history. Based on information shared by the family, the audiologist will select the most appropriate test procedures. When testing is completed, the audiologist will interpret and review the results with the family and make recommendations.
Following an aural rehabilitation evaluation, therapy may be recommended. Therapy sessions are usually once a week or every other week. Sessions usually last about 50 minutes. Therapy is play-based, so the child has fun while learning. Therapy will improve your child’s listening skills and help him to process spoken language more easily. Family participation in therapy is strongly encouraged.
Q: Why does my baby need another hearing evaluation?
Some babies do not pass the first hearing screening in the hospital. Ohio law requires every infant be re-evaluated after discharge from the hospital if the infant does not pass the hospital screening in one or both ears or if the infant has a risk factor for hearing loss (family history, birth defects of the head and neck).
An audiologist should perform the follow-up testing.
Hearing loss is something you can’t see. It is possible to detect hearing loss in the early days of life. Early intervention can greatly benefit your baby. A baby who has hearing loss may have difficulty developing language and other skills.
The evaluation may be similar to the first screening your baby had in the hospital. Auditory brainstem response (ABR) and / or otoacoustic emissions (OAE) testing will be done. During the testing, sounds will be played through tiny earphones inserted in your baby’s ears. Your baby’s responses to the sounds will be measured using electrodes placed on different parts of your baby’s head (ABR) and “echoes” that come back from your baby’s ear (OAE).
Your baby will not feel any pain during either of these evaluations. Most of the testing will take place while your baby is asleep. Your baby can be tested while resting in your arms.
If a permanent hearing loss is diagnosed and hearing aids are recommended, then hearing aids will be a lifetime need. There are rare cases when a child is fit with hearing aids to compensate for temporary hearing loss until surgery can be completed.
Watch a short video about hearing aids.
Hearing aid use is recommended for all waking hours with the exception of times when the devices could be damaged or get wet. To achieve the greatest benefit from hearing aid use, children’s brains must be exposed to the additional sounds that hearing aids provide. With part-time use, the brain does not learn to fully integrate those sounds to help your child develop normal auditory and communication skills.
Typically, if a child has significant hearing loss in both ears, then hearing aids are recommended for both ears. Recommendations vary based on the degree of hearing loss and the child’s needs and communication skills.
Q: Can my child have a hearing aid that goes down in the ear?
Generally, in-the-ear hearing aids are not appropriate for younger children due to issues of size, safety and durability. As your child gets older, an in-the-ear hearing aid may be considered. Keep in mind that some degrees of hearing loss may be too significant to receive good benefit from an in-the-ear hearing aid. The audiologist can discuss the benefits of in-the-ear versus behind-the-ear hearing aids when it becomes a consideration.
Q: How can I help my child prepare for getting hearing aids?
Explain to her that when you return to the audiology clinic, she will be getting some new hearing aids that will help her hear her family, friends and teachers better. Decide what you will call the hearing aids; some families call them “magic ears,” “hearing computers” or “ear buddies.” Stay positive as you speak about the hearing aids. Your child’s attitude about hearing aids will be greatly influenced by your attitude. Teach your child that hearing aids are going to help her and that you are very proud of her. She doesn’t need to hide her hearing loss or hearing aids. Children’s books about hearing aids are available for reading to your child, her siblings and classmates.
Not all insurance companies cover hearing aids. The Division of Audiology has a financial services representative who can check to see if your insurance will cover any of the cost of hearing aids. If hearing aids are recommended, but would pose a financial hardship, there are opportunities for families to apply for assistance with payment.
Billing Information: Financial and Medical Assistance Programs for Families
Cincinnati Children’s Hearing Aid Trust
Our Audiology researchers are committed to developing novel treatments and technologies to better understand, identify and treat hearing loss and inner ear problems, including newborn screening and diagnosis.
Do you have a question for our Audiology staff? If so, please contact us at 513-636-4236.
3333 Burnet Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio 45229-3026 | 1-513-636-4200 | 1-800-344-2462 | TTY: 1-513-636-4900
New to Cincinnati Children’s or live outside of the Tristate area? 1-877-881-8479
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