We can do the physiologic testing listed above on children including tympanograms, acoustic reflexes and otoacoustic emissions. However, children under five years of age are usually not able to cooperate by raising their hand when they hear the tone for a standard hearing test. We do the following types of testing for children.
Behavioral Observation Audiometry
(ages birth to 6 months)
The audiologist is looking for a change in the infant’s state (e.g. eye blinking, sucking changes, arm and leg movement) in response to an auditory stimulus. There is a wide variation in infant responses and the validity of testing can be in question. This kind of testing is only used in conjunction with other tests in order to gain a full picture of the infant’s hearing. If true diagnostic testing is needed for an infant under 6 months of age, he must be referred for auditory brainstem response or auditory steady state response testing.
Visual Reinforcement Audiometry
(ages 6 months to 2. 5 years)
The audiologists train the infant to turn his head to look at a light up toy in response to a voice or tone. The signal is presented at lower levels and the audiologists look for the head turn response. This type of testing is reliable and can be used to get a full audiogram.
Conditioned Play Audiometry
(ages 2 years to 4.5 years)
The audiologist teaches the child to drop a block in a bucket (or a similar task) in response to a voice or tone. We have many types of games to keep the games fun and we often get a full audiogram in one session.