The evaluation has many steps, so make sure you child knows that they might be there for a little while. The audiologist will use an otoscope, like those found in most doctors’ offices, to look inside your child’s ears. He or she might pull on their ears to get a better view, but this is an easy and painless process overall. It is usually followed with a tympanometry test, which is used to test how the eardrum moves. To complete this test, the doctor will simply place a small plug in the ear for a few seconds to then see what is recorded on a screen.
The next step of the process may be a little more daunting for children. You may be asked to do what is called a pure tone threshold test, which involves sitting in a specially designed room and listening to beats of different frequencies through headphones. This test is designed to discover the absolute lowest volume at which you can still hear sound. The test will probably take about 30 minutes. If your child is nervous to go into the room, which usually has a glass wall for visibility, you may be allowed to go in and let your son or daughter sit on your lap.
One of the main reasons that children even undergo these tests is to help with the progression of their speech or to rule out hearing problems as the reason for any language development issues. Accordingly, testing speech is often a large portion of the exam. The audiologist will want to determine your child’s speech detection threshold. To do this, the doctor will ask your son or daughter to repeat words back throughout a microphone at different intensities and volumes.
Other tests may be necessary, but the above procedures are what are typical for most children getting their hearing tested. The main point to get across before the appointment is that this can take a long time, so patience is key. None of the procedures should hurt your child, so there is no need to worry. Although the appointment may seem long, it’s an important step in taking care of your child’s overall health.