Diagnostic Audiology

Diagnostic audiology with children of all ages determines the type and degree of hearing loss in each ear.

Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) testing is used to assess auditory function in infants and very young children and in any child unable to participate in behavioral hearing testing.ABR is performed by MENT audiologists with young babies in natural sleep and in older infants and children under light sedation administered by the medical staff.

The audiologist has a number of tools at her disposal to assure appropriate hearing aid fittings.  Measurements can be made of individual ear canal resonance or estimated from well-researched averages, and gain and output characteristics can be selected to match targets most appropriate for children.

Hearing aid fitting in babies requires specific expertise. The amount of power appropriate for a particular hearing loss is different in small babies than in adults, and it will change as the baby grows.So the audiologist must see the baby frequently and make changes to hearing aid programming based on the baby’s ear canal size and as more specific information is gathered about the baby’s behavioral hearing thresholds.

Virtually all hearing aids are now digital signal processors that can be programmed to closely suit individual hearing losses.It is important to understand, though, that no hearing aids “correct” hearing to normal, and that children with hearing aids still do not hear well in all circumstances.Depending on the degree and configuration of the hearing loss, hearing aids may provide access to sounds all across the speech range, or they may provide access only the low frequencies with minimal benefit in the high frequencies.  In some cases there is not enough measurable hearing for hearing aids to provide any significant benefit (see cochlear implants).

There is a difference between “hearing” and “understanding”–hearing aids can make sounds in different frequency ranges audible but cannot guarantee the user will be able to understand speech clearly.  So even the best hearing aid fittings cannot stand alone;  expert therapy and a strong educational program will be essential to success.

YOU as parents are a very, very important component in your child’s success, and every moment you are with him or her is a teachable moment. Your child’s teachers and therapists will help you to learn the most effective ways to work with your child at home.