What is an Audiologist?
An Audiologist is a professional concerned with all types of hearing impairments and their relationship to communication disorders. Audiologists are involved in the identification, assessment, diagnosis, evaluation, treatment and management of disorders of peripheral or central auditory impairments (hearing loss/impairment and/or deafness), balance system disorders/dysfunction, tinnitus and other neural systems.
The Audiologist is trained to identify and evaluate the range, nature and degree of hearing/hearing loss in babies, children and adults. They are also involved in audiological (aural) habilitation and rehabilitation to both children and adults, and are trained and capable with regard to planning, conducting, directing and participating in the management of persons with hearing loss, whether it be referral for medical management, or the selection, fitting and provision of suitable hearing aids and other assistive listening devices to both children and adults.
Audiologists are also involved in the prevention of hearing loss through auditory training, counselling, guidance and the provision and fitting of hearing protective devices such as noise plugs.
Services we offerDiagnostic Hearing Tests (all ages)
Hearing aid sales
Hearing aid repairs/cleaning
Hearing aid services
Auditory Processing Assessments
Tinnitus Assessments and Assistance
Hearing tests for medical assessments
Ear wax management
Custom ear plugs and monitors
What to expect at your appointment for a diagnostic hearing assessment:Not all the tests listed below will apply to you. The test that are chosen during your appointment are based on each patients’ subjective needs.
Case historyThe case history includes addressing the reason for your appointment, your medical history and your communication difficulties.
OtoscopyThis procedure involves looking into the ear canal with a light. This is to examine the state of the ear canal and ear drum. Additionally, we also want to ensure that there is nothing blocking the ear that may hinder the other tests.
TympanometryThis test allows the audiologist to assess the condition of the middle ear and how the ear drum moves in response to changes in air pressure. This test is non invasive and painless.
Acoustic ReflexesThis test allows us to measure the contraction of a small muscle in the middle ear in response to an intense sound. This test gives the audiologist information about the middle and inner ear, as well as information about the hearing pathway to the brain.
AudiometryAudiometry is divided into 2 parts. The first part measures your ability to hear tones through headphones. The second part will measure your ability to hear tones through a ‘bone conductor’. A bone conductor is worn externally and simply transfers the tones directly to the inner ear through micro vibrations. This test is also non-invasive and completely painless. During both assessments you will be asked to respond to the tones by pressing a button or by raising you hand each time you hear it. The tones presented in both these assessments will vary in pitch and intensity.
Speech AudiometrySpeech audiometry assesses your auditory abilities using everyday words. This test gives the audiologist a better understanding of how well you can perceive various speech sounds and gives an idea of how well you would cope with hearing aids, should they be recommended. While wearing headphones, the audiologist will verbally read out a word, or present a pre-recorder wordlist and you will then be asked to repeat the word back to the audiologist.
What are hearing aids:A hearing aid is a small device that is programmed to your individual hearing loss. It uses highly advanced technology to detect incoming sound and process it in such a way that allows the wearer access to these sounds in an individualised way and improves understanding of speech.
Types of hearing aids:The style of hearing aids have drastically changed over the years. There are three main styles of hearing aids:
Receiver in the canal
Custom hearing aids
Auditory Processing Disorder
What is an Auditory Processing Disorder?Auditory Processing is a term used to describe how the brain recognises and interprets sound. As such, an Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) is a deficit in the brain's ability to understand and use sound information correctly; hearing levels are usually within the normal range. In short, it is the brains inability to correctly process auditory information.
Does my child have APD?
APD assessments can be performed on adults and on children over 5 years of age who have normal hearing, but cannot process sound information accurately. It is more common to assess children, many (but not all) of these children experience significant learning difficulties because they are unable to make sense of what they are hearing.
A parent or teacher may suspect APD if a child:
- has difficulty following instructions
- has difficulty understanding speech in the presence of background noise
- has a short attention span
- has a lower reading or spelling ability
- has difficulty in understanding information presented verbally
- has difficulty learning in background noise or in group environments
- has poorer verbal abilities
- has low self-esteem
- is easily distracted
- behaves as if there is a hearing loss present often asking for repetition or clarification
APD can often be confused with other conditions such as language disorders or higher-order cognitive disorders (eg. Autism, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) as the symptoms and behaviours the child exhibit can be similar. It is important to note that APD is specific to the auditory deficit alone and not the results of any cognitive, language or related disorder. In some cases, however, APD can coexist with these disorders. A careful and accurate assessment is therefore required for proper diagnosis.
What to expect during an Auditory Processing assessment
An APD assessment consists of a series of tests, each one designed to assess a specific auditory skill. The pattern of the results of each test allows a profile of strengths and weaknesses to emerge. This is important because the degree and type of auditory processing deficit and individual experiences will determine the most appropriate therapy specific to his or her needs; there is no "one-size-fits-all" treatment for APD.
We perform a thorough diagnostic Auditory Processing Disorder assessment for children from 7 years of age and adults who have auditory processing difficulties. Children can be assessed from 5 years of age, but with a more limited set of tests. Younger children cannot be assessed because the normal variability in brain function across younger children is so marked that accurate test interpretation is not possible.
We generally allow 2 hours for an auditory processing assessment, the assessment involves the following:
Case HistoryOur audiologist will ask you questions regarding your/ your child's learning and hearing skills. Please bring any reports from a Speech therapist, Educational psychologist, Behavioural optometrist or school reports along to the appointment.
Hearing TestA hearing assessment is performed to determine the softest sounds that can be heard by your child for each frequency (pitch) important for speech understanding. This information is plotted on a graph called an audiogram. Tests to determine middle ear movement and the ear's physiological response to sound (acoustic reflex testing) may also be performed.
Auditory Memory TestThis test assesses your child's ability to recall numbers and sentence material in sequence.
Auditory Perceptual Tests
Auditory perception skills are often affected should a child have difficulty with auditory processing. Tests for auditory perception are often language-based and a language delay could affect results. We find it beneficial to include auditory perceptual tests in the test battery to get a more global picture of your child’s skills.Some tests that could be included are:
- Auditory memory tests (sequencing)
- Auditory analysis and synthesis
- Auditory closure
- Rapid repetition of colours/numbers/letters
Auditory Processing Tests which include:
- Dichotic Digits Test: assesses the child's ability to listen to information presented simultaneously to both ears.
- Frequency Pitch Pattern Test: assesses the child's ability to detect subtle differences in sound.
- Random Gap Detection Test: assesses the child's ability to detect two tones presented at different time intervals.
- Listening in Noise Test: assesses the child's ability to hear in a noisy environment.
ReportAt the conclusion of the assessment, the audiologist will explain the test results to you, discuss recommendations and answer any questions. A detailed written report will also be supplied (at a later date) and will include results as well as recommendations for further investigations and or management/intervention as appropriate.
What can be done about an Auditory Processing Disorder?Management of Auditory Processing Disorder involves a team approach and can be separated into three areas:
Environmental ModificationsEncompasses changing the learning or communication environment to improve your child's access to auditory information. This includes preferential seating in the classroom or use of electronic devices such as FM systems.
Direct InterventionThese are techniques/exercises designed to improve auditory processing skills by remediating the specific disorder/s that have been identified through the assessment process. There are many such intervention programs, run by a variety of professionals. Typically a speech therapist will be involved in the intervention process.
Home-based programs may also be recommended in conjunction with direct therapy. Some examples are Zoocaper Skyscraper, Insane Airplane and Soundstorm. These are all apps backed by a lot of scientific research, designed to help remediate APD in a playful way.
Compensatory StrategiesThese are strategies that can be useful in enabling the child to cope with daily listening activities by overcoming potential problems and disruptions to active listening and auditory processing.
The amount and rate of improvement in auditory processing ability as a result of intervention and management is variable. However, with appropriate management, almost all children will demonstrate some gains, allowing them greater access to the world of sound, speech, and language.