Exceptional Children's Services

Frequently Asked Questions – Audiology

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Questions and Answers about Audiology Services

Question: What role does an audiologist play in my child’s education?

Answer: Audiologists are trained to evaluate hearing and listening problems. They make recommendations about amplification, medical evaluation and/or the classroom listening environment. The audiologist, working with other school personnel, helps to provide the child with maximum access to the learning environment.

Question: Can you provide a brief explanation of how the ear works?

Answer: The ear consists of three main sections. The outer ear consists of the pinna and the ear canal. The middle ear contains the three middle ear bones and the eardrum. The inner ear contains the nerves for hearing and the end organ responsible for balance. Sound is directed toward the eardrum by the outer ear and ear canal. The eardrum vibrates and moves the middle ear bones. The bones transmit sound to the hearing nerve, which send sounds to the brain.

Question: What are the tests you use?

Answer: A typical hearing evaluation consists of a “pure tone” and a speech hearing test, along with a tympanogram.

  • The pure tone test is given under headphones in a sound treated room. We usually ask Children to raise their hand when they hear beeping sounds at different pitches.
  • Speech testing consists of having the child repeat a list of words given at a comfortable level of loudness. If a child is unable to wear, or will not wear headphones, sounds are put through speakers, and the child is observed turning toward the sound.
  • A tympanogram measures the movement of the eardrum by placing a small amount of air pressure in the ear canal. This test can help indicate if there is fluid behind the eardrum, a hole or tubes in the eardrum.

Other specialized testing may be done, as needed. None of the tests should give the child any pain or discomfort.

Question: How is hearing loss measured?

Answer: Hearing loss is measured by type and degree. The type of hearing loss generally indicates where the problem is located. This may be in the middle, outer, inner ear or further up the brainstem. Types of hearing loss are conductive, sensorineural, mixed and central. The degree of hearing loss is measured by determined how loud the sound has to be at each pitch in each ear before the child detects the presence of the sound. Degree of hearing loss ranges from slight to profound.

Question: What is a conductive hearing loss?

Answer: A hearing loss that results from a problem in the outer or middle ear is referred to as a conductive hearing loss. This means that there is a problem with sound getting to the hearing nerve. This can be caused by problems such as wax in the ear canal or fluid in the middle ear space. Many conductive hearing losses can be medically treated.

Question: What is a sensorineural hearing loss?

Answer:  A hearing loss that results from a problem in the inner ear is a sensorineural hearing loss. This type of hearing loss usually involves a loss of ability to understand speech even if it is loud enough to be detected.

Question: What are “PE” tubes?

Answer: “Pressure Equalization” tubes are typically placed in the child’s eardrum by an ear specialist to drain the middle ear fluid and get air into the middle ear space.

Question: Can I be present when my child has his hearing tested?

Answer: Yes! Parents are encouraged to accompany their child into the testing booth and observe their child during testing. This often helps parents understand the degree of hearing loss that may be present.

Question: What does it mean when someone says that my child may have a “central auditory processing problem”?

Answer: Children with a central auditory processing problem typically have normal hearing as measured by an audiogram. These children hear the tones, but have difficulty quickly and accurately processing what they have heard or have problems understanding in difficult listening environments.

Question: If my child is diagnosed with a hearing impairment, what happens next?

Answer: Recommendations will be different for each child based on the type and degree of hearing loss. The audiologist will work with the physician and school personnel to determine what interventions may be helpful. Recommendations may include medical evaluation, hearing aid evaluation, educational evaluation, and/or speech/language evaluation.


Published by Shonda Virgil on August 12, 2019

Cumberland County Schools
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