More information about hearing testing in children

How is hearing tested?

The type of tests we use depends on the age and ability of the individual. Test time can vary from half hour for a routine assessment, up to two hours for diagnostic infant testing or cochlear implant assessment.

One test is not usually sufficient to obtain definitive results so we rely on a battery of tests. Testing may include:

  • Tympanometry and acoustic reflex testing – used to assess middle ear dysfunction such as otitis media
  • Oto Acoustic emissions testing (DPOAE and TEOAE) – used to assess cochlear function.
  • (AEP) Auditory Evoked Potentials (ABR and ASSR) – used to assess the auditory pathway up to and including the auditory nerve. AEP are primarily used to give information regarding hearing levels in infants. Testing can be carried out under natural sleep or GA
  • Pure tone Audiometry – used to assess hearing levels either under headphones, or in the free field using speakers for younger children

How old does a child have to be before they can have a hearing test?

A baby can be tested from birth. All babies born in Tasmania will be offered a newborn hearing screen. However some babies/children may pass this screen and develop a hearing loss. If families suspect their baby or child has a hearing loss, they should be referred as a matter of urgency for an audiological assessment.

What are the signs of a hearing loss in a baby/toddler?

  • The baby starts to babble normally, then stops for no reason
  • The baby does not respond to environmental sounds or  appears inattentive
  • The baby does not begin to talk at an age when they should
  • Speech and language development seems delayed; they do not use many words

What are the signs of a hearing loss in a child?

The child with a hearing loss may:

  • Appear inattentive and naughty
  • Have difficulty hearing if there is background noise or locating the source of the sound
  • Often make speech errors
  • Have delayed language development
  • Speak too loudly or too softly
  • Need to have sentences/instructions repeated or misunderstand what is said
  • Turn up the TV
  • Respond inconsistently
  • Not understand soft speech or respond when called from a distance
  • Tend to become withdrawn and quiet in group situations

Additional Information