Why does my child need a hearing test?  

  • Although New South Wales has an excellent newborn hearing screening program, which tests newborns before they leave the hospital  it is possible for children to acquire a hearing loss.
  • Most commonly hearing loss in young children is due to ear infection and is a temporary condition.
  • Nevertheless, even temporary hearing loss can cause disruption to speech and language development and may cause behavioural problems.
  • We have a range of different equipment that allows us to assess the hearing of children from birth.

How can my child’s hearing be assessed?

Middle ear and Eustachian tube function testing (tympanometry).

  • These middle ear tests are always a part of hearing tests for children .
  • The most common cause of hearing difficulties in children is fluid behind the ear drum, which will  be picked up by tympanometry.
  • Fluid behind the ear drum (glue ear) causes reduction in hearing, and can lead to issues with speech reception and learning.
  • If glue ear lasts for more than a few months, grommet insertion will return hearing to normal, and greatly help language development.
  • This test is done simply by placing a small probe in the child’s ear for approximately 10 seconds. The probe delivers a soft buzzing noise and a puff of air into the ear canal to test the response of the eardrum.
  • It is well tolerated by most children.

Otoacoustic Emission screening (from birth)

  • This test can be done from birth and involves placing a small dome into a child’s ear canal opening and delivering a 'clicking' noise.
  • The test procedure is not at all painful and if the child passes it indicates good cochlear outer hair cell function which is required for normal hearing.
  • This test typically takes 30 seconds to 2 minutes per ear.
  • Passing this test suggests adequate hearing for speech development
  • Visual Reinforcement Audiometry (from 6 months)
    • This test involves using a sound field speaker and teaching your child to look for a puppet in a lighted box each time a sound is audible to them.
    • Using this test, we are able to ascertain if they have adequate hearing for speech and language development.
Figure: "the puppet show". If the child correctly responds to a sound stimulus, the puppet does a playful dance. This makes the hearing test an engaging and enjoyable experience for even the youngest child.

Figure: "the puppet show". If the child correctly responds to a sound stimulus, the puppet does a playful dance. This makes the hearing test an engaging and enjoyable experience for even the youngest child.


Play Audiometry (from 3-6years)

  • This test involves wearing headphones while we present varying frequency tones to ascertain the softest audible sound you are able to hear.
  • For children between 3-6 years of age, responses will be obtained by using a conditioned play task while older children and adults will press a response button to indicate when they hear a sound.
  • Children from  6 years old (and often younger) can be be reliably  tested in the same way as adults.

My GP told me that my child's eardrums look dull, what does this mean?

  • It is possible this might indicate there is fluid sitting in the middle ear cavity that could affect your child's hearing.
  • Individual eardrums do look different, making it hard to know insome cases if a dull appearance is a result of middle ear fluid.
  • Tympanometry testing will indicate if there seems to be a problem with fluid in the middle ear.  

Where can my child have their hearing tested in the Inner West, or close to the city centre of Sydney?

  • Annandale Audiology is in Annandale, minutes away from central Sydney and close to Glebe, Balmain, Leichhardt, Haberfield, Lilyfield and Rozelle.
  • Our audiologists Jane and Rebecca have extensive experience in testing the hearing of very young children.
  • Using VRA, (“the puppet show”) we are able to test the hearing in most children over the age of 6 months.
  • In the cases where behavioural (threshold) testing proves difficult, we can screen overall hearing function with a pass/ fail test (Otoacoustic emissions).
  • A pass on otoacoustic emissions suggests that hearing function is almost certainly adequate for normal language development.
  • In most cases where it is not initially possible to get a reliable response to the hearing test, a repeat attempt at VRA or other behavioural testing will be undertaken down the track.
  • Our practice is supported by 2 specialist ENT surgeons with paediatric expertise, Dr Edward Smith and Dr Joanna Walton.
  • Either of our doctors can be involved in your child’s care if it is required.