Children's audiology (paediatric audiology)

Children's audiology (paediatric audiology)

Our Paediatric Audiology Service provides audiological assessment and treatment for children from newborn to adulthood. 

More about us

Our team works in close conjunction with Teachers of the Deaf, Paediatricians, Social Services and ENT consultants.  Referrals can be accepted from GPs, Paediatricians, Speech and Language Therapists, Health visitors, school nurses and other professionals.

Does my child need a hearing test?

Do you have any of the following concerns:

  • I feel my child doesn’t always respond when called or talked to.
  • My child has had severe earaches and/or several ear infections.
  • I feel my child’s speech isn’t progressing.
  • My child asks for things to be repeated or mishears what is being said.
  • School or nursery has mentioned they feel he/she isn’t hearing as well.
  • My child sits very close to the television and has to have the volume raised.
  • I have to get their attention before I ask a question
  • If I call my child from another room they don’t seem to hear me
  • I’ve had a letter from school saying that my child has failed a hearing test.
  • Any other parental concerns (a hearing loss can affect not only speech and language development, but other areas of development as well.)

If so, we would recommend obtaining a referral for your child to have their hearing assessed.

What kind of tests might my child need?

When you attend an Audiology Department, your child’s hearing will likely be assessed using one or more of the following diagnostic tests:

  • Visual Reinforcement Audiometry. A test of your child’s hearing by observing their physical response to specific sounds, and rewarding the correct response with an animated toy. This test is performed from 8 months of age onwards.
  • Tympanometry. A test to assess the function of the middle ear. A probe with a soft tip is placed in the outer ear canal for a few seconds; your child may hear a soft humming sound. This is used to detect ‘Glue ear’. More information about glue ear can be found in our information leaflets section. This test is performed on all age ranges.
  • Pure Tone Audiometry (PTA). In children, this test can be performed by pressing a button in response to hearing a sound through headphones. More often in younger children, we swap the button for something more interesting, such as stacking blocks, or even playing Pop-Up Pirate! Typically, this test is introduced from around 3 years of age.

Newborn Hearing Screening Programme

The NHS Newborn Hearing Screening Programme ensures all parents are offered hearing screening for their new baby within the first few days or weeks of life. One to 2 babies in every 1,000 are born with a permanent hearing loss in one or both ears with most of these babies being born into families with no history of hearing loss.

Permanent hearing loss can significantly affect a baby’s development. Finding out about hearing loss early gives babies a better chance of developing language, speech and communication skills, as well as making sure their families receive the support they need. It will help babies make the most of relationships with their family and carers from an early age. For more information on newborn hearing screening please click here.

You may be offered a hearing screen for your baby in hospital before discharge, or you will be contacted and offered an appointment at an outpatient clinic.

Weekly outpatient clinics are offered in the following locations; Bideford, Barnstaple, Ilfracombe, Holsworthy, South Molton, Tiverton, Crediton, Honiton, Okehampton, Exeter and Exmouth. If you have trouble attending a clinic appointment please contact the team and we will aim to accommodate your needs to ensure your baby is offered the screen.

The Newborn Hearing Screening Team for Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust can be contacted on: 0333 321 9552 or by emailing us at rduh.hearingscreening@nhs.net

If your baby is referred to Audiology from the Newborn Hearing Screening Programme more information can be found on the gov.uk website.

Children and hearing loss

If your child is diagnosed with a permanent hearing loss, the Audiologist will discuss with you and your family the various options available which may include the provision of hearing aids, or referral to relevant specialist agencies for alternative management of your child’s hearing loss.

If a hearing aid is indicated, an impression will be taken of the ear(s). A soft sponge will be placed into the ear canal, followed by putty-like material to obtain the shape of the ear. This will be forwarded to be manufactured and an appointment will be mutually arranged for the aid to be fitted within three weeks. We are able to choose from a selection of colours for the ear mould and the hearing aid, depending on you or your child’s preference.

When the aid is fitted a senior audiologist will spend time with the parent/guardian and the child themselves explaining all about the hearing aid, how to get used to it, how to work it and how to insert it, amongst other information. A follow-up appointment will be booked before you leave the fitting appointment and regular hearing tests will be scheduled.

Children’s Hearing Services Working Group (CHSWG)

This is a group of representatives made up of different professionals (such as audiologists, hearing screeners, teachers of the deaf, speech and language therapists) working in Devon with deaf and hearing-impaired children.

Parents and families are represented by Parent Reps and a representative from the NDCS – National Deaf Children’s Society who also attends and provides a national overview.

CHSWG is responsible for improving services for families and children by listening to them, taking their views into account and by ensuring that recommendations from national initiatives and Quality Assurance (QA) are met. It offers advice, guidance and exerts influence in order to ensure high quality services. It also acts on behalf of service providers at a practitioner, managerial and strategic level.

When does it meet?

The group meets usually three times a year during term-time to share experiences, ideas and actions for improving the lives of deaf, hearing-impaired children and their families throughout the county. The meetings usually last for around 3 hours and are based at various locations in Devon. Since the Covid-19 outbreak these meetings have moved online, and are being held every 2 months.

How parents can be involved

There are various ways that parents can be involved. Feedback about services can always be given to any professional working with your child at any time. If you prefer, you can contact us by email with any feedback or questions about CHSWG at rduh.Audiology@nhs.net, or ring the department directly on 01271 322476

Become a Parent Representative

If you would like an opportunity to have your voice heard and represent other families at CHSWG meetings, why not become a Parent Representative? As a Parent Rep you’ll get to meet other parents and professionals who are keen to influence services on behalf of families.

For more information about this group please contact us at rduh.Audiology@nhs.net, or contact Sarah Collinson of NDCS at sarah.collinson@ndcs.org.uk

Last updated: February 26, 2023.

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