A hearing screening is a test to tell if an infant might have a hearing loss. Hearing loss can affect a child’s ability to develop communication, language, and social skills. The earlier children with hearing loss start getting services, the more likely they are to reach their full potential.
OAE, the most common test, is done in the hospital. A small ear probe is put in the baby’s ear. The ear probe can send and receive signals. It sends click sounds that go through all the parts of a baby’s ear. If the baby’s ear is healthy, it will make an echo from the click sounds, and the echo will go back to the ear probe. The ear probe records any echo it receives.
If an infant cannot get a OAE or if an infant doesn’t pass the OAE, they can get a different test – an automated auditory brainstem response. For this test, small sensors are put on the baby’s head, and the baby will wear earphones. This test measures how the nerves that control hearing respond to sound. Small sensors are placed on the baby’s head and earphones are also used. Both of these tests are safe and do not hurt.
Both of these test must be done at the hospital your baby was born. If your baby was born at home, your midwife needs to give you a referral to one of these birthing hospitals.
An audiologist is a kind of healthcare provider who takes care of people who have a hearing loss. An audiologist will be able to diagnose your child and will explain what you need to do next.
Early Intervention (EI) is an important service that is for a child who is Deaf or hard of hearing. Staff in the EI Program works with the whole family and helps you decide what your child needs. Every child is different. The most important thing is to go to EI as soon as possible so your child learns how to communicate.