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Pediatric Audiology

Behavioral and speech issues are often the first indicators of a possible hearing problem. These problems arise when a child has a hearing deficit. Pediatric audiologists can diagnose speech and hearing disorders.

What is pediatric audiology?

Pediatric audiology is a type of healthcare offered to both infants and young children who are experiencing hearing problems or sound recognition issues. The audiology process involves both diagnostic and rehabilitation services, which are used to determine the type of hearing disorder and to treat it accordingly. Finding hearing problems early in a child's life is essential for correction of these issues and prevention of further hearing problems.

What is a pediatric audiologist?

A pediatric audiologist is a specialist within the medical field who works with pediatric patients who have hearing and speech deficits. They are skilled professionals who use different forms of testing in order to find the problem and then determine which method of correction will treat the issue and help prevent it from getting worse.

What conditions do pediatric audiologists treat?

The conditions treated by a pediatric audiologist include various problems hearing and speech. One area of treatment involves middle ear conditions, which can lead to chronic or repeated ear infections. Other conditions treated include:

  • Evaluation and treatment of hearing loss
  • Malformations of different areas of the ear
  • Sensory hearing disorder
  • Detection and removal of foreign objects from the ear canal

What services do pediatric audiologists offer?

The services offered by a pediatric audiologist vary according to the condition and symptoms of the patient. The hearing specialist will perform hearing tests in order to determine the cause of the child's deficit. These tests include sound evaluation, as well as external and internal exams of the ears.

Specialized tests exist for infants and young children, as well as children and adults with developmental and cognitive impairments. These more-specialized tests allow the audiologist to test the auditory system when the patient is not able to actively participate in the tests or evaluation.

These test include:

Auditory brainstem response (ABR) and auditory steady-state response (ASSR) testing
Otoacoustic emissions (OAE) screening
Visual reinforcement and conditioned play audiometry

For children, it is important to have a diagnostic audiologic evaluation whenever a hearing loss is suspected. It is the first step in identifying hearing loss and dealing with it to improve quality of life.

After the examination and diagnosis, the pediatric audiologist will work to find the best method of treatment for your child. She may use certain devices, such as a hearing aid, to correct problems with hearing. Also, installation of tubes in the ears could be necessary to correct chronic infections. Surgery is done when foreign objects need removed or to fix a malformation of the ear. Also, therapy may be utilized in order to correct certain hearing problems, such as a sensory hearing condition.

What can I expect at a pediatric audiology appointment?

When you bring your child in for a pediatric audiology appointment, the audiologist will ask general questions in order to get an idea of the hearing and speech problem. She will discuss the types of testing used to find the problem, which may be done that day or scheduled for a later appointment. At the time of the testing, the pediatric audiologist will tell you what problems were found, as well as what method of correction is needed. The pediatric audiologist gives the parent information regarding the hearing deficit and offers insight as to why this type of issue occurs along with the success rate of the treatment options.

Indicators of Child Hearing Loss:

  • Speaks loudly
  • Attention problems
  • Only responds when face-to-face
  • Has a delayed reaction when spoken to
  • Has no response when called upon
  • Has trouble following directions