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Hearing Testing for Children

If you suspect your child has hearing loss, the first step is to get a hearing test to identify the cause. Prompt intervention matters: Children with hearing loss who are identified and receive appropriate treatment early are more likely to fulfill expected developmental milestones.

Young child undergoes hearing testing comfortably

Hearing Testing for Children: Why Choose Johns Hopkins?

  • Johns Hopkins provides hearing tests for all ages. Children at any age can get a hearing test — even newborns.
  • We use four common hearing tests for children: visual reinforcement audiometry, play audiometry, otoacoustic emissions and auditory brainstem response evaluations.
  • At Johns Hopkins your child will be evaluated by an otolaryngologist (ENT) to identify the cause of hearing loss and work with an audiologist who specializes in hearing loss testing and treatment. 

Hearing Tests for Children

Visual Reinforcement Audiometry

Visual reinforcement audiometry is a behavioral hearing test that measures your child’s hearing using variations in sound intensity and pitch. The test measures hearing for children aged 7 months – 2.5 years. During this test, your child sits on your lap or in a chair between two calibrated speakers or wears headphones. When a sound is presented, your child’s eye-shift or head-turn response toward the sound source is rewarded by lighting a toy mounted near the loudspeaker.

Play Audiometry

Conditioned play audiometry is another behavioral hearing test to assess hearing in children 2.5 – 5 years of age. The audiologist shows your child how to perform a repetitive play task, such as placing a peg in a pegboard, each time he or she hears a sound. Each ear is measured separately using headphones that emit the sound in one ear at a time. If your child refuses to wear headphones, the test can be administered in a soundproof room using speakers.

Otoacoustic Emissions

Otoacoustic emissions (OAE) are internal sounds produced by healthy inner ears in response to stimulation by external sound. OAE hearing tests can be used as an alternative or supplement to play audiometry or visual reinforcement audiometry, and may be recommended for infants, young children or children with developmental delays. The audiologist gently places a soft probe inside your child’s ear canal. The probe delivers an external sound into your child’s ear, while also recording the internal sound produced by the inner ear in response to the external sound.

Auditory Brainstem Response Evaluations

Auditory brainstem evaluations (ABR or BAER) require some preparation. ABR testing on newborns can only be done when the newborns are sleepy. If your doctor has recommended that your newborn undergo sedation for ABR testing, you will be given instructions by the staff at Johns Hopkins. Learn more about preparing your child for this procedure .

Hearing Loss Specialists