Rachel asked...

My son is 18months old and we think he is having some hearing difficulties. We have seen an ENT specialist and he performed a ABR test and the results came back within the acceptable range.
However he still does not seem to be responding to sound all the time ie his name and loud bangs etc. We have an audiologist appointment later this week and I was wondering what should I expect them to do and what test I should expect them to perform.
Thank you in advance Rachel

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The Answer

Dear Rachel,

Thank you for your question. Audiologists will normally carry out a combination of tests on children between the ages of 6-36 months who are unable to give a clear verbal response to diagnostic tests. This will normally include a visual reinforcement audiometry (VRA) test and tympanometry. 

VRA involves playing sounds through speakers and monitoring your child’s response, normally a toy or light will light up if they turn to face the sound. In conjunction with this, the tympanometry will measure the flexibility of the eardrum and show whether it is flexible, as it should be to allow sound through, or rigid, which suggests a problem. 

Tympanometry is very effective at detecting common childhood hearing complications, such as glue ear; this is done by putting a small rubber-tipped tube in the ear and gently blowing down it to produce a reading of sound that is bounced off the eardrum; this reading will give an indication as to how rigid the eardrum is. 

Both these tests are painless and easy to carry out and should not take very long to perform.

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