As part of evaluating Douglas for a possible social/communication disorder, our paediatrician referred him for a hearing assessment. He explained that whilst he didn’t expect this would show anything to worry about, it would be remiss of him not to rule it out. For anyone about to go through the same thing, I thought I would share a bit about our experience.
Like many babies, Douglas had failed his newborn hearing test in one of his ears and had already had a hearing referral when he was a few weeks old. The tests performed then showed that Douglas did have hearing in that ear, but couldn’t rule out other issues, so we were keen to have a further test done.
It took around four months from the referral to the appointment, and we were sent a useful handout on the types of tests that might be performed.
A friend of mine had told me a bit about the process, as her son had a hearing assessment when he was a toddler. Therefore I knew a little about what to expect. But the experience surpassed my expectations and was far more pleasant (and less clinical) than I thought it would be.
At the clinic
Douglas’s name was called and we were taken into a sound proof room by two audiologists. They asked a few questions about Douglas’s medical history and talked me through what they would do during the appointment. The room in itself felt child-friendly and not too clinical. There were lots of toys and toy boxes, and a table a chairs.
The first test was visual reinforcement audiometry or VRA. This hearing assessment can be used on children from around seven months up to two and half years old. I sat on a chair with Douglas on my lap, in front of the table. One of the audiologists sat opposite us and showed Douglas a variety of toys on the table. Sounds were then played either side of us at various pitches and volumes. When the sound played and Douglas turned his head to the sound, a toy would light up and animate.
The second test was the oto-acoustic emission (OAE) test. An ear bud, connected to a handheld device, was placed in Douglas’s ear. Clicking sounds were played and the inner ear’s responses recorded. Douglas wasn’t very keen on this! However, by holding his hands and showing him the toys I was able to distract to him for the test to complete.
Afterwards, I was told straight away that Douglas had the all-clear – such great news!
He has now been discharged from the audiology clinic and will receive his next routine check when he starts school.
Have you taken your child for a hearing assessment as a toddler? How was your experience?