from Dr. Christine Eubanks, Director of Audiology
The biggest issue is whether or not they have significant sensory sensitivities.
- If they don’t like being touched, the audiologist should know about that ahead of time so that the tests which involve actually putting earplugs in the child’s ear can be left until last—or avoided altogether at the first visit—then kids tend to have more trust and are more willing to come back and have more direct contact. We have lots more tests in our arsenal these days, but unfortunately most involve putting an earplug in the ear, however briefly. Having a video or interesting toy available can help with this.
- A child that won’t let you touch him at all limits what information the audiologist can get (no ear-specific tests, nothing objective, just observations of behavioral responses to sound). In those circumstances, an audiologist might be tempted to use a high-level signal to invoke a startle response. This provides lots of information (kids with autism can appear “deaf” but will startle where deaf kids won’t), but should be avoided with kids who will respond adversely. The alternative is a sedated hearing test (ABR, BAER).
- Of course, a bright young child can be taught to respond to sounds by purposefully letting you know when they hear it. You will get much closer to true thresholds that way, compared to the way we usually test younger kids by making a sound and seeing whether they stop what they are doing to look for the sound.
- With older 2e kids, the only “disadvantage” is that you spend a lot more time explaining why you are doing what you are doing. This may slow things down but is much more entertaining for the audiologist (at least this audiologist).