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How our Audiologists Specialize in Working with Children with Complex Conditions and Developmental Delays

An audiologist works with a Gillette patient.

At Gillette Children’s, our team of audiologists often work with children who may be nonverbal, have developmental delays or other complex conditions. We are the first children’s health care organization in the Twin Cities to offer Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) testing that doesn’t require a child to be asleep or sedated. 

A hearing test is a way to gather information about the quietest sound levels that each ear can detect. In other words, an evaluation can determine whether or not your child is experiencing hearing loss. 

There is no specific age in which a test must be performed. A hearing loss screening can even be done for newborns if a caregiver or healthcare provider has concerns. 

Gillette Children’s Doesn’t Require A Child To Be Sedated 

While it is not necessary to place your child under sedation, some caregivers prefer to have the test performed while their child is asleep. The healthcare providers at Gillette Children’s can talk about the specifics of your child’s situation and whether being awake, being asleep or being sedated is best.  

It is important to know that the test can occur on its own or in conjunction with other procedures. Some children need dental work or are having magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) done. While under sedation, it can be possible to perform everything at once. 

An ABR Test Can Provide Useful Information 

An ABR hearing test is one of the most common types of hearing tests for kids. It measures how your child’s ears receive sound and send it through the auditory nerve to the brainstem. 

During the ABR hearing test, a Gillette audiologist will place several sticky electrodes on your child’s forehead and near each ear. A small earphone is placed in each ear so the audiologist can play specific sounds. Then, the electrodes pick up responses and a computer records them. Your child’s audiologist analyzes these results during the test. 

How long this entire process takes depends on the specifics of your child’s condition, but it typically ranges from 30 minutes to one hour.  

After the ABR test, the electrodes are removed and the small earphones are taken out painlessly. Your child’s audiologist will then review the results with your family. 

An audiologist works with a Gillette patient.

Understanding The Different Types Of Hearing Tests For Kids 

It should be noted that there are many different types of hearing tests for kids besides ABR. For example, conditioned play audiometry is set up like a game. Your child might drop a block into a bucket each time they hear a sound. The audiometry test measures how well your child can hear sounds at specific frequencies. 

Otoacoustic Emissions Testing (OAE), on the other hand, measures the health of the inner ear by using a small earphone that plays certain sounds. Audiologists then can measure response or echo.  

Tympanometry is another option which provides information about the health of the middle of your child’s ear. If the ear canal is healthy, we place a device in the ear that changes the air pressure inside of it. A machine then records the movements. 

Visual Reinforcement Audiometry (VRA) is used to measure your child’s sensitivity to certain frequencies. This type of test is most often used in infants to children up to age 2. We utilize light-up toys and videos to see if your child moves their head in response to a sound. 

Finding Tailored Solutions To Your Child’s Specific Needs 

At Gillette Children’s, our audiologists will work closely with you and your family to find a custom treatment plan specific to your child’s needs. Our experts understand how complex conditions like autism, cerebral palsy, certain genetic syndromes, craniofacial conditions and neurodevelopmental delays relate to hearing challenges. 

Through every part of your child’s journey, we offer services, technology and facilities designed to make their process as comfortable as possible within a family-centered environment.

An audiologist performs an exam.