Hearing Tests for Children
What to expect at your hearing test appointment
In the exam room, the audiologist will ask you questions about your child’s history and development and listen to any concerns you may have. The audiologist will then perform the following tests as part of your child’s hearing evaluation and will share results with you throughout the visit.
The audiologist will look into your child’s ear canal with an otoscope and make note of findings such as cerumen (earwax), drainage, pressure-equalizing tube in eardrum.
This test allows the audiologist to measure the movement of the eardrum which can help determine how your child’s middle ear is functioning. A soft probe is placed at the opening of your child’s ear canal. Tympanometry does not measure your child’s hearing, but it can detect any changes in pressure in the middle ear, fluid behind the eardrum, or a hole in the eardrum – all of which can affect your child’s hearing.
Otoacoustic Emission (OAE) Test
A small earphone will play sounds into your child’s ears. A healthy inner ear will respond with otoacoustic emissions (responses), which can be recorded with a tiny microphone inside the earphone. OAE testing takes only a few minutes and is painless.
Hearing Tests for Different Ages
If your child is less than six months old, a hearing test for newborns may be recommended.
If you child is over approximately six months of age, the audiologist will bring you and your child into a test booth after completing the tests listed above. Depending on the age of your child, the audiologist will continue to test your child’s hearing with one of the below activities. If test results cannot rule out hearing loss, the audiologist may recommend additional testing for your child.
Infants and Toddlers (6-30 months old)
The hearing of children ages ~6-30 months is evaluated using a technique called visual reinforcement audiometry (VRA). For this test, your child will typically sit on your lap and sounds will be presented through speakers and/or through earphones. Your child will be taught to look toward an animated toy or a short video in response to the sound presented. In order for a child to be tested using this method, the child should be able to sit up (with support if needed). The audiologist will provide you with the results of testing, as well as any follow-up recommendations before you leave your visit that day.
Preschoolers (30 months – 4 years old)
The hearing of children ages 30 months-4 years is typically evaluated using a technique called conditioned play audiometry (CPA). For this test, your child will be asked to respond to sounds heard through headphones by playing a simple game (throwing a toy in a bucket, putting a peg in a peg board). Most children find the games to be fun. If your child does not initially understand the game, the audiologist will work with them to understand the task. The audiologist will provide you with the results of testing, as well as any follow-up recommendations before you leave your visit that day.
School-age Children (4 years and older)
The hearing of children over four years of age is typically evaluated using a conventional or voluntary technique. For this test, your child will be asked to respond to sounds heard through headphones by raising their hand or by pressing a button. The audiologist will provide you with the results of testing, as well as any follow-up recommendations before you leave your visit that day.