Pediatric audiologists at Dell Children’s in Central Texas deliver care for infants and children with hearing loss.

Girl with cochlear implants playing with blocks.

Pediatric audiology at Dell Children's

Hearing loss can start anytime during childhood and can affect your child’s speech, language and social skills. If you have concerns about your child’s hearing, start by talking with your child’s pediatrician. Your child’s doctor may recommend that you schedule an appointment with a pediatric audiologist at Dell Children’s, a part of Ascension Seton. Our pediatric audiologists diagnose and treat hearing loss and other hearing-related conditions in infants and children. And our care team is experienced in caring for children who have complex conditions and medical needs.

Newborn and infant hearing screenings

Mother and father hugging baby daughterIf your child receives a “fail” result on their newborn hearing screening, it does not mean they have hearing loss. Start by talking with your child’s pediatrician. There are other things that can affect your baby’s results, such as fluid in their ears or a noisy room while testing. But if your child receives a “fail” result, it may be important to get further testing by a pediatric audiologist. Your pediatric audiologist can perform additional hearing tests to determine your child’s level of hearing. And if hearing loss is detected, we work with you to create a care plan that helps manage your child's hearing.

Diagnosing hearing loss

Your child’s audiologist starts by having a conversation with you and may recommend a series of hearing tests and imaging, such as MRI, to help diagnose your child’s hearing condition. Pediatric hearing tests can help your child’s doctor determine the right treatment for your child. Our goal is to deliver the earliest possible diagnosis and treatment to help your child hear and communicate. Your child’s doctor will explain the diagnosis and discuss a care plan that’s right for your child. Tests may include:

  • Auditory brainstem response testing (ABR)

    This test looks for a specific pattern of brainwaves to detect the softest level of sound a child’s brain can respond to. The results help predict your child’s hearing. This is the test that is completed for children who have a “fail” result on their newborn hearing test. It can also be used for children who are not able to communicate (non-verbal) or physically respond to sounds. And, if your child needs to be sedated for their test, we provide sedated ABRs at Marnie Paul Specialty Care Center at Dell Children’s Medical Center.

  • Behavioral audiometry

    Behavioral audiometry means assessing a child's ability to hear sounds of different tones at different loudness levels. The method of testing may vary depending on the child's age and abilities.

  • Extended high-frequency audiometry

    This is a test used to monitor the hearing of children who have been exposed to ototoxic medications (medications that can damage the ear), such as chemotherapy.

  • Otoacoustic emissions testing

    This is a test used to measure how well the inner ear, known as the cochlea, is working.

  • Tympanometry

    This test measures how well the tympanic membrane works.

Multidisciplinary care for your child

Sometimes, hearing loss can be caused by other health conditions. So, your child may have a team of specialists who work together to deliver the comprehensive care your child needs. Your child’s audiologist may work closely with pediatric specialists in ear, nose and throat (ENT) care, cancer care, craniofacial care and more.

Your child’s care plan may include:

  • Hearing aids

    For some types of hearing loss, a hearing device may help. Audiologists at The Hearing Center clinic locations help you choose the right hearing aid for your child and adjust the settings for each child.

  • Speech and language therapy

    If your child is experiencing speech and language delays due to their hearing loss, we connect you with speech pathologists (speech therapists) at Dell Children’s and in the community. Speech therapists help your child communicate with those around them. Speech therapists work closely with your child’s audiologist to create a care plan that’s personalized for your child’s needs.

  • Auditory verbal therapy

    This type of therapy helps children use their hearing (provided by a hearing aid or a cochlear implant) for understanding speech, learning to talk, and learning to listen.

  • Coordination of complex care

    Your child’s care team connects the dots for your child’s care, from scheduling hearing tests and follow-up visits, to referrals to other specialists at Dell Children’s.

  • Education and school plan

    Your child’s care team works with specialists in the community and schools to help make sure your child is receiving specialized instruction during class and other related services at school.

  • Counseling and family care

    Mental health specialists provide counseling and supportive care for your child and family. Your child’s care team is ready to listen and connect you with the support you need.

Hearing devices for children

There are many different types of hearing devices for children. Audiologists at The Hearing Center clinic locations work with you and your child to find the device that works best for your child.

When a child is diagnosed with hearing loss and needs a device to help them hear, the change can be challenging for your child and family. Your child’s care team takes the time to explain how to use and clean your child’s hearing device. We also help your family understand how to help your child adjust to wearing a hearing aid.

Types of hearing devices for children include:

  • Behind-the-ear digital hearing aids

    Digital hearing aids are commonly recommended for many types of hearing loss.

  • Bone-anchored hearing aids (BAHA)

    This is a hearing aid that is surgically implanted to help partially restore hearing. Your child’s audiologist can connect you with ENT doctors at Dell Children’s who specialize in surgically implanting BAHAs.

  • Cochlear implant (CI)

    A cochlear implant is a small, electronic device that is surgically implanted and can help partially restore hearing. Unlike a hearing aid, which amplifies sounds, a cochlear implant delivers signals to the cochlear nerve. This device may be used for children with severe hearing loss or when other hearing devices are not working. If your child needs a cochlear implant, you will be connected to ENT doctors at Dell Children’s.

Support for your child and family

Mother and daughter hugging.Your care team can connect you with resources in your child’s school and community. We also connect you with other families who have children with similar conditions and who can provide support, tips and information.

For all patients and families whose primary language is not English, we have Spanish language and American Sign Language interpreters to help. We also support patients and families who need help in other languages.