Behavioral Hearing Tests for Children

Our audiologists conduct behavioral hearing tests to observe a child's behavioral response to sounds. These responses may include head turns, eye movement, raising a hand, or doing a simple activity, depending on the age of the child. One or a combination of tests may be used and will be customized for each patient.

Conventional Test Techniques

These techniques are used with older children. A speech reception threshold (SRT) is obtained by asking patients to repeat familiar bisyllabic words (e.g. baseball) at gradually decreasing intensity (loudness) levels, until the level of the softest words that can be repeated is identified. Then, pure tone audiometry begins. Patients are asked to push a button or raise their hand when a tone is heard. A pure tone audiogram is generated, which is a graph indicating thresholds at the various frequencies or pitches tested, from low to high. 

Visual Reinforcement Audiometry

This procedure is typically used for children in the 6 month to 2 1/2 year age range. With this technique, young children are taught to turn toward an animated toy every time they hear a sound. Since small children cannot repeat words, a speech awareness threshold (SAT) is determined by gradually decreasing intensity (loudness) levels of a speech signal, until the softest speech to which the child turns is identified. Then, an audiogram is generated by observing the head turn response for certain pitches or sounds. 

Conditioned Play Audiometry

This test is frequently done for children in the 2 to 5 year range. Children are taught to perform a simple task (e.g. putting rings on a peg) every time they hear a sound. The goal is to obtain the same information as obtained with conventional test techniques described above, but in a more motivating manner that holds the attention of small children.

Speech Recognition Tests

When hearing loss is present, it is important to determine how well the patient can understand speech. A variety of speech recognition tests are available for patients ranging from 3 years through adulthood. During these tests, the audiologist asks the child to repeat target words.