School Aged

Hearing loss can occur at any stage during child and adulthood.

Negative consequence of a hearing loss – either permanent or frequent temporary conditions, such as the middle ear disease include – poor classroom performance, educational outcome, difficulties in social interaction and eventually impact on vocational opportunities.

Prevalence comparisons of hearing loss suggest a significantly higher prevalence in the school age population relative to the prevalence identified in the newborn period. It has been estimated that the 3/1000 prevalence of permanent hearing loss in infants can be expected to increase to 9‐10/1000 children in the school‐age population (White, 2010) and permanent and/or transient hearing loss in one or both ears affects more than 14% (one in seven) of school‐aged children.

Therefore ongoing monitoring via screening and evaluation is important to ensure your child’s potentials are maximised.

Some of the signs to look for in suspecting a hearing problem in school aged children are:

  • Difficulty attending to spoken or other information presented aurally.
  • Requests repetition frequently.
  • Fatigues easily when listening.
  • Gives inappropriate answers to simple questions.
  • Appears isolated from peers.
  • Difficulty with reading skills.
  • Difficulty with spoken and/or written language.
  • Easily frustrated.

There are a number of ways to test children from 5 years of age and these are listed below:

Peripheral Hearing Tests for Five Years Old +

Perform a combination of tests that show how well a child responds to sounds such as tones and speech presented through headphones to individual ears, as well as tests of the middle ear and inner ear.

Auditory Processing Tests for Seven Years Old +

If a child can hear well when their peripheral hearing is tested, but their brain has problems processing more complex sounds, they may have an auditory processing disorder. Children with Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) have trouble processing sounds. For example, a child with APD may hear a sound, but not be able to make sense of it. This may present as problems hearing in background noise, or difficulty understanding speech

Children with APD may:

  • Have difficulty following spoken instructions.
  • Poor localisation of sound.
  • Have poor memory for speech.
  • Have difficulty understanding speech in a noisy situation.
  • Easily distractible.
  • Find it difficult to understand fast talkers or unfamiliar accents.
  • Often ask for repetitions or misunderstand instructions.

At school, children with APD may have:

  • Delayed expressive language and comprehension abilities.
  • Difficulties in reading, writing, and spelling.
  • Difficulty taking notes.
  • Poor short-term memory.
  • Behavioural, psychological, and/or social problems resulting from poor language and academic skills.

Children with these characteristics are candidates for APD testing.

An audiologist will assess the child’s ability to hear in ideal circumstances, and compare it with more difficult listening situations (eg. listening with background noise, when speech is muffled, or when different words are presented simultaneously to the two ears).

In order to assess auditory processing we offer the following appointments:

  • Auditory Processing Screening
    This assessment considers how well a child can hear in the presence of background noise and is a series of tests that includes a peripheral hearing test.
    This screening assessment takes around 1.5 hrs.
  • Auditory Processing Diagnostic Testing
    This assessment is recommended when a child fails the Auditory Processing Screening. It involves a number of tests which considers each child’s skills across a range of listening tasks when compared to same age peers. The audiologist may evaluate your child’s ability to perform specific tasks that are associated with the auditory centres in the brain and brain stem. These include listening for gaps between two sounds, listening for a pattern, or testing for sound localisation.
    This diagnostic assessment takes around 1.5 hrs.

These tests are practical for use with children aged 7 years and above; it is difficult to interpret test results on younger children because of large individual differences.