One may wonder why a child’s hearing needs to be assessed when the primary concern is speech or language development and not about hearing. For a speech-language pathologist to evaluate a child’s speech and language ability, it is crucial to establish that the child has full access to speech sounds.
How We Test Your Child’s Hearing
On the day of the child’s hearing evaluation, the audiologist will conduct their testing in a sound booth. A sound booth is a quiet, sound-treated room with all the necessary test equipment for a hearing evaluation. The audiologist will first investigate the child’s ear with an otoscope to make sure there is no wax accumulation or fluid behind the eardrum.
Next, the audiologist will place a soft tip in the ear that briefly moves the eardrum back and forth. This is called tympanometry. This test is done to ensure that the eardrum is moving healthily and that there is no fluid behind the eardrum. It is important that the audiologist ensure that the eardrum and space surrounding the eardrum, known as the middle ear space, is healthy.
Fluid will likely result in sound being muffled and unclear for a child. The audiologist will speak to the family about appropriate follow-up care if the presence of fluid or other middle ear concerns come up.
Next, the audiologist will play sounds for the child either with headphones or in the room itself. The sounds will be different pitches and the audiologist will look for certain responses based on the child’s age. Sometimes this response is a hand-raise or a head turn. The audiologist will then play speech sounds such as words or sentences.
The child may directly participate in this task, or the audiologist will look for a behavioral response depending on the age of the child. The audiologist uses tones of different pitches and speech stimuli to ensure that the child has access to a variety of speech sounds. The audiologist will then talk to the family about appropriate follow-up care if there are any concerns for the child’s hearing.
Speech contains low, mid and high pitches. A child with a hearing loss will not have access to certain pitches, which can impact their speech development. A child with a hearing loss may not have exposure to language in the same way a child with normal hearing does. This may result in a delay in their speech and language milestones. Your audiologist wants to ensure that the child has full access to all the necessary sounds before the speech and language evaluation.
Please call our clinic for more information on speech and language milestones or for more information on the importance of a hearing evaluation before your child’s meeting with a speech-language pathologist.