Audiology is anything that relates to hearing, but it’s much more than just what we hear, or how much we hear. Most of us have heard of hearing loss: when you don’t hear as well as you should be able to, or sometimes don’t hear at all. Audiology problems can present in different ways as well, such as auditory processing disorder. In this case, your child hears just fine, but the signals seem to get scrambled between the ear, where the hearing takes place, and the brain, where understanding takes place.
How Do I Know if My Child Has an Auditory Disorder?
There are a few clues to look for. Does your child seem to miss half of what you’re saying? Does he ask you to speak up or to repeat yourself frequently? Do you have to call his name several times to get his attention, or to make sure he’s looking at you before he seems to hear? Does he have trouble following directions, or remembering multiple-step instructions? Does he have speech delays or difficulties? Does he turn the television up too loud, or sit too close to it? Any of these things could indicate an auditory disorder, and your child could benefit from an audiological evaluation. The audiologist will perform several tests to determine if there is an auditory disorder and how to proceed with treatment.
Why Does Audiology Matter?
Hearing is your child’s first step toward communicating with the world. He learns to link certain sounds to certain things, and those sounds become words. When your child can’t hear the sounds around him, or they get confused in his brain, communication suffers. “Mama” is just a noise, until he makes the connection between that sound and the person who cares for him. From then on, “Mama” starts to mean something. If he can’t hear that sound, there is a broken link in the communication chain. A child with auditory processing disorder might, for example, hear the word “cat” clearly, but in his mind, the sounds get scrambled. When he tries to say “cat,” what comes out is “tac.” He knows what he’s trying to say, but others around him may not.
It can also be hard for children with auditory disorders to determine things like tone of voice, so that they have a hard time determining whether someone sounds happy, angry, excited or sad.
Audiology is the science of testing the auditory system, and it’s important for each piece to work as well as possible in order to facilitate communication. At Carolina Pediatric Therapy, we examine each piece and work with your family and other members of your child’s care team—teachers, caregivers, physicians and therapists–to meet all of your child’s audiological needs.
- Early identification and early intervention of a hearing loss increases a child’s ability develop speech and language skills to a more developmental level.
- Education and support for families as they make decisions for their child.
- Providing amplification or an assistive listening devices helps a child hear more clearly.
- Help children communicate better during conversations.
- Provide strategies for listening in noisy and difficult environments.
- Provide information to the family about the child’s hearing loss and amplification options that are available.