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Hearing impairment can affect various aspects of your child's life. For example, the impairment can affect the child's progress in school or their socialization with friends. Take your child for a hearing test if you suspect hearing impairment. Below are four examples of tests the child's audiologist may suggest for a professional diagnosis.
1. Behavioral test
Behavioral testing is one of the most common forms of hearing tests. As the name suggests, the audiologist observes the child's behavior to determine their quality of hearing. The exact tests depend on the child's age and development.
For a toddler, the audiologist may play calibrated speech at different volumes. The toddler's head or eye movements will suggest whether they are responding to the speech.
2. ABR Test
Behavioral testing is not suitable for all children. For example, young babies do not always respond to sounds around them. The auditory brainstem response (ABR) test is a suitable alternative for such children.
For the ABR test, the audiologist places sensors behind the child's ears and on their forehead. The sensors behind the ears send sounds to the child's ears. The sensors on the forehead pick up nerve responses to the sounds. The audiologist then interprets the results to determine the child's hearing ability.
3. OAE Test
For the otoacoustic emissions (OAE) test, the audiologist inserts a tiny probe into the child's ear canal. The probe sends pulsing sounds into the ear canal and records the corresponding echo. Since the echo bounces back from the outer hair cells, the audiologist can use their quality to gauge the child's hearing.
Note that the OAE test can only gauge hearing problems that originate from the outer hair cells. Thus, the hearing test is only suitable if the audiologist or another health care professional suspects damage in this area.
4. PTA test
As previously mentioned, a child's age determines which tests are suitable for them. For example, an older child who can respond to questions is a good candidate for the pure tone audiometry (PTA) test.
For the PTA test, the child wears an earphone that is hooked up to a sound-producing machine. The child listens to different sounds through the earphone and responds to questions from the audiologist. The child's responses help the audiologist determine how good the child's hearing is.
Hopefully, the hearing tests won't reveal a serious problem with your child's hearing. Don't despair, however, if the diagnosis is hearing impairment. Most forms of hearing impairment are manageable. Just note that the sooner your child gets a diagnosis, the easier it will be to help them. Contact a facility that offers hearing testing services to learn more.