Pediatric audiology is the study of children's sense of hearing. This speciality addresses a broad spectrum of childhood auditory disorders from total hearing loss to limited hearing. A pediatric audiologist measures children's hearing and prescribes appropriate auditory devices and communication therapy. Auditory devices such as amplification implants can help improve hearing for some children.
Diagnosis of pediatric auditory disorders is conducted through a series of ear function examinations, hearing assessments and behavioral hearing evaluations. These tests depend on a child's age and symptoms, ranging from routine newborn hearing screenings to more advanced evaluations of older children. Two frequent diagnostic tests are auditory brainstem response (ABR) and otoacoustic emission (OAE), which measure brain and ear sensitivity to specific sounds or auditory stimuli. Rarer examinations include speech perception and sentence recognition tests.
If an audiological disorder is detected, treatments will attempt to enhance hearing ability while also improving alternative communication skills. Care programs often include prescription of cochlear implants or hearing aids, assistive listening devices (small microphones connected to a personal speaker), and recurrent hearing exams. After improving hearing through these devices, children might work with speech-language pathologists to improve listening comprehension and receptive communication. Pediatric audiologists often collaborate with teachers of the hearing impaired and psychologists for patient treatment.