All parents in the UK are offered a routine hearing screen for their new baby either in the hospital before discharge or within a few weeks of the birth. Babies who do not get a clear response to the screening test are referred to an audiology clinic for a full assessment of their hearing.
However, children can develop temporary or permanent deafness at any age. If you are concerned about your child’s hearing discuss it with your health visitor, school nurse or family doctor (GP). They can refer you to your local audiology or ear, nose and throat (ENT) clinic where your child’s ears will be examined and their hearing tested. Hearing tests can be done on children of any age from birth upwards.
For further information about the testing, the National Deaf Children's Society (NDCS) have produced a leaflet: click here.
You might choose to go directly to a private hearing aid dispenser instead of having your hearing tested on the NHS.
Just as with the NHS route, a hearing aid dispenser will assess you with a full hearing test lasting up to an hour before deciding if you would benefit from wearing hearing aids. You don’t need a referral from your GP.
You can search for a local hearing aid dispenser on the British Society of Hearing Aid Audiologists BSHAA's website, or simply type ‘hearing aid dispenser’ along with your town or postcode into a search engine, such as Google.
Some local hearing aid dispensers offer free testing, so it's worth asking before you make an appointment.
The Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) keeps a list of qualified private hearing aid dispensers. You can use the HCPC's online register to check if the hearing aid dispenser you're about to use is registered.
Two checklists of some general reactions to sounds and sounds that babies make in the first year of life are available in the booklets: ‘Screening tests for you and your baby’ or ‘Screening tests for your baby’.
These booklets are produced by the UK National Screening Committee and may have been given to you during the pregnancy. They can also be downloaded here.
Signs to look out for in older children may include:
• Delayed speech development not responding when called
• Difficulty working out which direction a sound comes from
• Persistently turning the TV louder than other members of the family
• Changes in behaviour such as becoming tired and frustrated, poor concentration, preferring to play alone
• Changes in their educational progress
• Suffering frequent ear infections
Certain groups of children should be offered routine hearing tests as they grow up even if they have always had normal hearing results. These include children who are ‘at risk’ of developing deafness. For example:
• Babies born with congenital infection eg rubella, CMV
• Babies who have previously had high levels of ototoxic medication
• Babies who had very severe jaundice at birth
• Children with a family history of permanent childhood deafness in parents or siblings
• Children with craniofacial abnormalities, Down’s syndrome or cleft palate
• Children who have had meningitis
• Children who have suffered a temporal bone (part of the skull) fracture
National Deaf Children's Society (NDCS) offer support to families across Hampshire.
If you require local support please contact our free phone helpline:
Telephone: 0808 800 8880
Textphone: 0808 800 8880
Fax: 020 7251 5020
North Hampshire Deaf Children Society