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Five Tips for Your Child’s Hearing Test

If your child has hearing loss and a cochlear implant (CI), hearing tests are likely nothing new to you! These simple tests are the best way for your audiologist or doctor to find out how well your child can hear.

Cochlear implant hearing test tips for children

But if your child is becoming a little frustrated at doing the same test over and over again, do not despair. In this post, we’ll share five tips to make your child’s hearing test fun and engaging.

What Is a Hearing Test?

For children, a hearing test can look many different ways. If your child was under the age of six months when you started this hearing journey, they most likely went through a variety of tests that did not require them to interact much. In fact, they probably had to be either sleeping or very still. Before a certain age or level of development, a child’s response to sounds may be limited—they can’t show or tell you if they heard a sound. As they grow, their responses become easier to distinguish and more reliable. Once your child can show or tell they’ve heard a sound, they move on to a different type of hearing test, usually completed in a soundproof booth.

Booth testing is considered the gold standard for hearing assessment. The goal is to figure out the softest sound your child can hear at different pitches. This is important for kids with CIs, as we want to make sure they have adequate access to all the sounds around them. Access to sounds, or audibility, is key for learning and developing listening skills. For example, booth testing may reveal that a child is able to hear soft sounds that are low-pitched, but high-pitched sounds have to be very loud for the child to respond. This kind of information is valuable for their audiologist to know so they can make adjustments to your child’s audio processor.

How Do Hearing Tests Work?

The way we do a booth test is simple: We present different tones at different loudness levels and record the response. Those responses from your child could be turning towards the sound, dropping a block in a bucket every time they hear the sound, or raising their hand. There are many ways we can record a response. Pediatric audiologists get very creative when trying to record a response from a child: by using pictures, videos, or moving toys to capture their attention, playing fun and interactive games, or using tools like stickers, songs, or food.

But creativity can be limited when audiologists don’t know what toys or games your child loves the most, what motivates them, or what will make them feel most comfortable. That’s where you come in! Below are some tips that will help your audiologist get the best results from your child’s hearing test.

How to Prepare for Your Child’s Hearing Test

1. Bring Your Child’s Favorite Games

Most pediatric audiologists have toys and games in their office, but many may appreciate when parents bring some of their child’s favorites. If your child gets tested often, they will likely cycle through all the toys in the audiologist’s office. Bringing along their favorites improves the variety of choices, keeping the appointment interesting.

2. Bring Your Child’s Favorite Snack

Playing a game with food as the reward often works very well, so bring your child’s favorite food.  Food that is bite-sized or can be broken into small pieces—like fruit snacks, gummy bears, cheerios, or cheese-its—works great!

3. Don’t Bring a Sleepy Child

Make appointments for times when your child is typically awake and well-rested. Try to avoid scheduling the appointment during their nap time since they can get very cranky when they haven’t had their nap!

4. Bring Yourself!

Become a part of the testing. For most of the test, the audiologist is outside the booth with the equipment while your child is in the booth. Additional professionals may be brought in to aid in the response reading or gameplay. It really helps having someone in the booth who knows the child well to redirect them, keep their attention on the task, or switch games when needed. A trusted friend, family member, or professional may lend a helping hand when needed.

5. Practice Makes Perfect

If your child’s hearing test doesn’t go smoothly, sometimes a bit of practice can help with the next one. If they shy away from having their ears looked into or wearing earphones (prior to CI), you can practice doing these things at home so they feel second nature. If the hearing test involves a game (e.g., dropping a toy into a bucket when a sound is heard), you can also practice that skill at home so they are ready for the next test. For some children, knowing what will happen and who will be there creates a more comfortable environment. So try using tools like social stories or story boards with pictures or simply talking to them about where they are going, who will be there, and what’s going to happen.

Most importantly, have fun! If you follow these tips to set your child’s hearing appointment up for success, it can even be the best part of your day.

Find out more about how cochlear implants work and how they could help your child.

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© MED-EL Medical Electronics. All rights reserved. The content on this website is for general informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. Contact your doctor or hearing specialist to learn what type of hearing solution suits your specific needs. Not all products, features, or indications are approved in all countries.

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