The Hearing Assessment
It can be hard to tell if kids’ listening and talking skills are growing well.
The first step is to take a case history to check on overall health and ear health in particular, for example if the child has had any ear, nose or throat infections in the past.
This is followed by the Parent Evaluated Understanding Listening Measure (PLUM) and Hearing and Talking Scale (HATS). These assessments are based on asking a series of pre-determined questions to understand how children hear things at home.
This simple yarn is an opportunity to find out if the parent or carer has any hearing concerns and to check the child’s overall development and wellbeing. Therefore, it’s very important for parents or carers to be involved, not just teachers and/or health workers.
The PLUM questionnaire assesses a child’s perceived hearing ability and the HATS questionnaire assesses their perceived speaking ability. They can be used in combination to assess the child's overall communication skills.
For more information on PLUM and HATS, including a step-by-step guide, checklists and score forms and a yarning at home resource visit:
The next step is a visual examination of the child’s ear by the health professional to check their ear health, for ear wax and any problems. This is done using an otoscope, a tool which shines a beam of light into the ear to help visualize and examine the condition of the ear canal and eardrum.
The function and movement of the child’s eardrum and middle ear will also be tested. This is simple test is called Tympanometry.
This is followed by a hearing test. The type of test will depend on the child’s age but may include playing games or some automatic tests. Some examples include:
Transitory evoked otoacoustic emission (TEOAE): These are sounds emitted in response to an acoustic stimulus of very short duration; usually clicks but can be tone-bursts.
PTA (Portable VROA or play audiometry): Visually Reinforced Orientation Audiometry and Play audiometry.
If hearing problems or ear disease are found, the health professional will talk to parents, carers and /or teachers so they are aware of the issues as well as treatment and management options.
The first step is usually antibiotic treatment and then a review by the health professional. Children are only referred to specialists if the problem is continuing over a long time or recurring. Hearing aids may be needed and speech pathologists may be able to help with language problems. This care and support will be arranged by the health professional. Like the initial ear health and hearing assessment, it is free for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children 0-6 years who have not yet started full-time school.
Importantly, Hearing Australia staff will return to regularly check on the child.
To get your free* hearing check call us on 134 432 or email the HAPEE team at HAPEE@hearing.com.au
Give your kids HAPEE ears today.