Pediatric Audiology

PLEASE NOTE: We provide pediatric audiology services to children aged 5 to 17.

What is Pediatric Audiology?

Pediatric audiology is the branch of audiology specializing in children’s hearing. It is different from diagnosing and treating adult hearing issues because children may not be able to answer diagnostic questions the way adults can, due to lack of language skills or vocabulary, or lack of understanding of how hearing is supposed to be. Due to these limitations, different tests are used to diagnose children’s hearing loss (see below).

Children are also growing and changing rapidly, providing additional challenges for treatment, which often needs to change and adapt as the child grows.

How is a Pediatric Audiologist Different from a Regular Audiologist?

A pediatric audiologist is a professional child hearing specialist with a master’s or doctoral degree in Audiology, who has additional technical expertise in children’s audiology and a desire to work with children. Our pediatric audiologists have decades of experience working with children. Their friendly, comfortable approach underlies their expertise in administering hearing tests for children, and providing hearing solutions based on each child’s individual needs. We truly enjoy working with children and providing ongoing support as they grow and their needs change.

Diagnostic Testing for Children’s Hearing

The diagnostic hearing evaluation for children is performed by a pediatric audiologist who performs a series of tests to determine if the child has a hearing loss, and if so, to discover:

  • The type of hearing loss (which part of the auditory system is affected).
  • The degree of hearing loss (how much hearing loss exists).
  • The configuration of hearing loss (which frequencies or pitches are affected).
We use state-of-the-art technology to diagnose children’s hearing loss. Our tests are conducted in a fun, game-like way, to keep children engaged and at ease while we collect the data required for an accurate diagnosis.

Key Components of Diagnostic Hearing Evaluations for Children

Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE)
When functioning normally, the cochlea (in the inner ear) produces low-intensity sounds called otoacoustic emissions (OAEs). But when a child has a sensorineural hearing loss of 30dBHL* or greater, these OAEs are absent. There are two basic types of OAEs that we test for:
  • Distortion Product Otoacoustic Emissions (DPOAE).
  • Transient Evoked Otoacoustic Emissions (TOAE)

Both of these OAEs are easily measured in children, and make up an important part of the children’s hearing test.

* dBHL stands for Decibels Hearing Level, which is the level of sound measured in decibels (dB) relative to the quietest sounds that a young healthy individual should be able to hear.

Tympanometry

Tympanometry is an objective test of middle-ear function which tests the mobility of the eardrum (i.e. tympanic membrane), the conduction of the middle ear bones, and the condition of the middle ear by creating variations of air pressure in the ear canal.

While tympanometry is not a hearing test, per se, it is a measure of energy transmission through the middle ear which can help in the diagnosis of hearing loss.

Behavioral Audiometry

As children age, they are able to provide hearing results through their behaviors and actions. After about 3 1/2 years of age, a child can be taught to participate in Conditioned Play Audiometry (CPA).The audiologist teaches the child to engage in an enjoyable activity, such as dropping a block in a bucket, when they hear a particular sound. The audiologist then finds the lowest intensity level that the child can detect sound at different frequencies 50% of the time, for each ear. From this information, a graphic representation of hearing ability (and hearing loss), called an audiogram, is created. The child’s hearing loss is then classified as mild, moderate, moderately-severe, severe, or profound.
Audiological Monitoring

Children may experience permanent hearing loss after an unspecified period of time after birth, called late-onset or delayed-onset hearing loss. If a child is diagnosed with mild, chronic or unilateral (one-sided) conductive hearing loss, or if they are at risk of developing progressive or delayed-onset hearing loss, audiological monitoring is recommended.

Pediatric audiological monitoring allows the pediatric audiologist to monitor children’s hearing abilities, as well as hearing aid details and performance, over time. Caregiver-report questionnaires may be used along with other measures, such as aided speech perception.

Allow Us The Privilege of Caring For Your Child’s Hearing

We’re not just Doctors of Audiology – we’re also parents. We understand how precious your little ones are, and how you’re looking for the very best care for them.

What sets our practice apart is our caring approach, and that’s especially true for our littlest patients.

We know how a hearing loss can be frightening for some children, and we take extra care to help your little ones understand everything we’re doing, and feel confident with their hearing solutions.

We ask you for the privilege of caring for your child’s hearing and promise to care for them as our own.

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McLean, VA...........(703) 962-6139
Cascades, VA.....(703) 722-8222
Falls Church, VA...(703) 485-4531
Fairfax, VA............(571) 295-5613
Rockville, MD........(301) 761-2988
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