Audiology at the Cora Barclay Centre

25 April 2017

As we mentioned last week the Cora Barclay Centre offers audiology to our clients who are deaf or hearing impaired, but also to the general community. This week we are going to tell you everything you need to know about audiology and bringing your child for a test.

Child with headphones playing game with audiologist

What is audiology?

Audiology is the science of hearing, balance and related disorders. So, obviously, it makes sense that the Cora Barclay Centre provides expert services in this area.

Cindy, our onsite audiologist, is internationally experienced and specialises in paediatrics, however, she supports clients of all ages; in fact, our oldest audiology client is 84!

When should I take my child to get a hearing test?

There are a number of signs that may indicate a hearing problem in a child. Below we have outlined a few to look out for. If your child has any of these signs you may wish to book a hearing test. 

Under 18 months

Does not startle or jump in response to loud noises
Does not make vocalisations by 4 months
Does not babble by 12 months
Does not respond to name by 12 months
Does not understand simple words like mama, milk
Has not used any words by 16 months

Toddlers and Children

Does not respond when spoken to
Request that things be repeated
Searches left and right for sounds
Speech is not at a similar level to other children their age
Has difficulty pronouncing words and sentences correctly
Finds it difficult to focus on one sound in a noisy environment
Misses quick or soft sounds
Performing poorly at school

Common Behaviour of Children with Hearing Loss

Sadness – they don’t understand why people shout at them
Anger / Frustration – at not being able to communicate
Shy – especially around new people as they find it difficult to understand what they say
Withdrawn at school – they find it difficult to follow instructions
Exhausted – hearing takes a lot of energy and children with hearing loss are often very tired at the end of a day
Misbehaviour / Naughty – behavioural problems often mask a hearing loss. These problems may stem from frustrations
Low self esteem – people may believe the child has cognitive development issues and the child begins to believe this

What will happen during a hearing test?

At the Centre we offer a range of audiological services. For many children, and adults, attending a specialist appointment can be nerve wracking as they don’t know what will happen.

Below are brief outlines of the most common services at the Centre and what will happen during them. It can be useful to talk about this with your child if they are attending their first appointment.

We also realise that you may not know exactly which service you require. There is no need to worry, the team at the Centre will ask you a few questions to work out which tests or examinations will most suit your needs.

The Centre offers general hearing tests for all ages. These tests help diagnose if an individual is having issues with their hearing, however, the way this is done varies depending on the age of the client.

Infant testing using Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR)  and Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE)

These tests are used for babies up to 6 months of age, and are similar to the tests hospitals use for newborn hearing screening.

The ABR test involves placing sensors on baby’s head to measure activity from the auditory area of the brain while sound is played through soft ear tips that are placed in baby’s ears. Although the use of sensors and ear tips may sound scary, it is actually a very simple process; so simple that baby can, and needs to, sleep during the test. 

As sounds are played a waveform is measured from the auditory brainstem and the level of hearing baby has can be identified based on the loudness of the sound that produces the waveform.

The OAE test is also very simple. A small probe (much like an ear bud) is placed in baby’s ear and a series of clicking sounds are played. If baby’s inner ear is healthy it produces an “echo” response that can be measured by the probe and indicates that baby’s hearing is likely normal or near normal. 

Visual reinforcement and play audiometry for young children

Once children are a too old to have an ABR test we move onto visual reinforcement and play audiometry. This is used for children from around 6 months up until 2 to 3 years.

Visual reinforcement relies on behavioural condition to get the child to respond to sounds. At the Centre we use a computer program that animates pictures.

The test begins by teaching (conditioning) the child to turn to a sound.  When the child turns they are rewarded with an animated picture. This is done until the child begins to associate the sound with the animation.  

Once the child is used to the animation being played along with the sound they will turn to look for the picture if they have heard. Different sounds at different loudness levels can then be played to determine the child’s hearing levels and whether their hearing is within normal range.

Conventional audiometry for older children and adults

For older children and adults the Centre provides the standard hearing test that many people are familiar with and is very simple. The child or adult wears headphones and uses a response button which they press when they hear a sound that is played through the headphone. Sounds of different pitches and loudness are played to determine the child or adults hearing levels and whether or not their hearing is in the normal range.

In addition to hearing tests our audiologist can also look in the ear and examine the middle to determine if there is an ear infection or another physical problem with the outer and middle ear.

Outer and Middle Ear Tests

Otoscopy and tympanometry

Otoscopy uses an otoscope (a small torch) to examine the ear canal and eardrum. Tympanometry tests the function of the middle ear by measuring the ear canal volume and the mobility and pressure of the middle ear system which included the eardrum and the bones in the middle ear. If there is reduced mobility, it is often due to the presence of middle ear fluid or a possible ear infection. 

In addition to the examinations and hearing tests carried out at the Centre Cindy also offers technical support for clients who are deaf or hearing impaired who have cochlear implants or want to try a bone anchored hearing device.  

Cochlear Implant Services

Close up of cochlear implant on girls head

Many of the children receiving services from the Cora Barclay Centre have one, or two cochlear implants. The Centre offers them the opportunity to have their speech processors programmed (MAPping) done at the Centre. By having this service onsite we can help reduce the impact on families’ time. This service is also available to adults with cochlear implants in the community.   

We also offer assistance in managing cochlear implant equipment, including loan processor, replacement parts and upgrades.

Bone Anchored Hearing Device demonstrations and loaners

Some of the children receiving services from the Cora Barclay Centre may be considering a bone anchored hearing devices or have one or two which they either wear on a soft band or have implanted. The Centre offers families support with these devices by providing information, demonstrations and loaner devices when their device(s) require repair. 

My child/ I needs a hearing test

If your child or yourself need a hearing test you can make an appointment to see  the audiologist by booking an appointment on 08 8267 9200. You are not required to have a referral and we have Medicare EzyClaim onsite for your convenience.

At the moment the Centre charges a $50 out of pocket expense (gap fee) for initial appointments, with any re-tests within 2 years being bulk billed. There is a reduced rate for concession card holders.

Feel free to ask any questions regarding hearing tests or our other audiological services in the comments box below.


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