Hearing and speech are essential tools of learning and the development of social skills
Children learn to communicate by imitating the sounds they hear. If they have a hearing loss that is undetected and untreated, they can miss much of the speech and language around them resulting in delayed speech and language development, social problems and academic difficulties.
Research indicates that four in 1,000 infants are expected to be born with permanent hearing loss. Children who receive early intervention have better language skills than those receiving intervention later on. The critical age by which intervention should commence may be as early as six months. Early diagnosis, early intervention, and an early start on special education programs can help maximise a child's hearing.
The Lions Hearing Clinics offer hearing tests for infants and children of all ages to detect hearing loss early in life. Our assessments include:
Otoacoustic Emission Tests
Otoacoustic emission (OAE) tests determine the hair cell function. At the Lions Hearing Clinic we use this information to help to identify any form of developmental disabilities that may be present as well as the sensitivity of the child’s hearing.
Visual Reinforcement Audiometry
Visual reinforcement audiometry (VRA) is a behavioural test for young children that assesses hearing sensitivity using conditioned responses to sound (i.e., head turning). Information from these tests can help us determine the child’s hearing threshold, which is the softest sound they can hear at each pitch. Typically during the VRA assessment, the infant or child is seated on the parent’s lap in a soundproof booth. The child is trained to turn toward a toy that lights up and moves when he or she hears a sound. Once the child is conditioned to respond to the sound, the intensity of the signal is reduced to determine threshold of hearing.
Speech tests are functional tests which help to identify a child’s ability to detect the sounds of speech, such as “m”, “e”, “u”, “s” and “sh” and the ability to understand these sounds clearly. Younger children often listen to sounds through headphones or speakers, whereas older children are usually tested by asking them to repeat words or identify pictures of words which they have heard through their headphones.
Play audiometry tests a child’s hearing when hearing devices are worn. During this test, we use the game ‘Connect 4’ and ask the child that once they hear a tone, they are to drop a distinct one of the columns they see in front of them. Puzzles, marbles and other strategies may also be used for this test.
This is an observational test whereby we identify changes in a child’s behaviour in response to hearing a sound. This test varies depending on the child’s age and abilities but is a good indicator of the child’s response to stimuli.
Paediatric Assessments and Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD)
Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) refers to the way our ears communicate with our brain, or what our brain does with what it hears.
For children with CAPD, trying to listen and learn in a classroom situation can be a harrowing, tiring and frustrating experience. Typically these children have normal hearing, but demonstrate a variety of listening difficulties also often impacting on language and attention, due to a weakness in the processing of acoustic information. This significantly interferes with listening and learning, and presents many challenges for children with the disorder as they endeavour to cope and progress in their education.
In addition to practical classroom strategies and other interventions often recommended for CAPD, wearing a personal frequency modulated (FM) amplification system has long been considered an ideal form of management, providing quality amplification of a teacher’s voice to a child in a noisy classroom.
The Lions Hearing Clinic paediatric program provides assessment and treatment options for children with CAPD.
This includes a well-established FM rental program, facilitating the increased speech and language development of children in our community. The team at the Lions Hearing Clinic are greatly appreciative of the support provided by the Lions Hearing Foundation who generously provide personal FM amplification systems for use by our young patients identified as having CAPD.
Click here for more information on CAPD