We offer assessment for any child whose parents or health and educational professionals are concerned about their hearing. We provide hearing assessments for children, using techniques that are age and developmentally appropriate. We have modern facilities at St Martin’s Hospital on the south side of Bath that include specialist equipment for testing children under the age of 2 and a half.
How we can help
Many of the children that we see have a temporary hearing loss caused by congestion behind the eardrums (‘glue ear’). We can monitor the hearing of these children and refer on for intervention if necessary.
We also provide specialist care for children with permanent hearing loss. These children are seen regularly for monitoring and hearing aid support. Our Specialist Paediatric Audiologists meet with Hearing Support Teachers from the Sensory Support Services and Paediatric Audiologists from the Royal United Hospital Bath, at the St Martin’s Hospital clinic.
Many of our children are first seen as babies, because a hearing concern was picked up by the Newborn Hearing Screening Programme. For other children, a hearing problem becomes apparent when seen in clinic as an older child.
We are very happy to see children with known hearing loss, with or without hearing aids, and children with tinnitus. We are also pleased to support children with permanent hearing loss who have moved into the area from another audiology service.
Who might my child see?
Your child will see a team of specialist paediatric audiologists and associate audiologists who will assess and care for your child, supported by our administrative team.
How do I access the service?
We can see any child whose family doctor is in Bath & North East Somerset, Frome and Shepton Mallet in East Mendip and the towns and villages of North and West Wiltshire (Malmesbury to Warminster and Bradford on Avon across to Devizes). Written referrals (via letter or email) can be made by your:
- Health Visitor
- School Nurse
- Speech and Language Therapist
- Paediatrician (community or hospital based)
- Other health or education professional
A parent/ guardian having any difficulty accessing our service, can get in touch with us directly to discuss arranging a referral.
Your first appointment
Once a referral is accepted you will be contacted by our administrative team by telephone and/or post with an appointment date and time. At the appointment, before we assess your child’s hearing, we will ask you some questions about your child, including:
- Concerns you may have about their hearing or speech
- Your child’s responses to sound
- Your child’s understanding of speech and speech development
- Your child’s general development and health
- Any family history of hearing loss
Measuring your child’s hearing
We use a range of hearing tests and will decide which ones to use depending on your child’s age, development, and the type of concerns raised about their hearing.
Young babies are often tested whilst they are sleeping- if we would like your child to be asleep for their hearing test we will explain this in your appointment letter.
Once a child is 8 months old, we usually like them to be awake and alert for their appointment. We can generally test them by looking at their reactions to sounds or playing a game with sounds.
The hearing tests measure how the different parts of the ear (outer, middle and inner ear) respond to sound. The response to sound is measured at different frequencies (pitches). We may use different methods such as loudspeakers, headphones and a bone vibrating headphone to measure your child’s hearing. For more information about hearing tests for babies and children please ask a member of our team for details.
What happens next?
At the end of the appointment we will discuss the results with you and a care plan for your child will be agreed. We will give you time to ask questions. Please let us know if you would like a copy of your child’s hearing test results or care plan.
- If your child’s hearing is satisfactory, they will be discharged
- If we haven’t been able to get enough information in one session, we may arrange another appointment to get more information
- If your child has a hearing loss caused by congestion (glue ear or otitis media with effusion) we will discuss this with you and arrange to review their hearing and discuss management options. We may refer your child to the Ear, Nose Throat Department at the Royal United Hospital, Salisbury or Swindon.
- If your child has a permanent hearing loss, we will discuss this with you and arrange to regularly check their hearing and communication development. We will discuss different management options with you including hearing aids. With your permission, we may refer your child to a hearing support teacher who will be able to provide information about communication options including sign language and support in nursery and school. We may also refer your child to a paediatrician to discuss possible causes of hearing loss.
For more information about causes of hearing loss and management of hearing loss for babies and children please ask a member of our team.