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THE AUDIOLOGIST

Educated professionals

An audiologist is a licensed and/or certified professional trained to identify and measure hearing loss, and to rehabilitate those with hearing or speech problems.

Audiologist are trained to determine where hearing loss occurs, and they can assess the loss of your ability to communicate.

Educational audiologist creates a strong connection their patients. They pinpoint and identify issues in regards to Early Hearing Detection and Intervention process. You can just identify it as EHDI, for short.

Although loss can occur at any age, hearing difficulties at birth or that develop during infancy/toddler years, and not properly treated through the adult years can have serious consequences.

teach-sign-language-to-babies
Baby to be tested by an audiologist

These medical people are complete professionals that perform their job well, but it’s not their job to teach sign language you or your loved ones.

School based audiologist are in a unique position to facilitate and support the developmental and educational management of individuals suffering from hearing loss.

Testing the patient’s middle ear function is important to the audiologist, for this may be the main issue that brings on other problems.

With proper hearing examination, treatment, education, and support, the individual should function as close to what a normal person should.

Audiologist who works for a special school has an ongoing responsibility and the opportunity to promote early detection and intervention of hearing loss.

The audiologist can recommend hearing aids and provide counseling and therapy to help you deal with hearing loss.

An audiologist is not a medical doctor, but may have a doctorate in audiology and thus be referred to as “DR.” An audiometrist is a person without a degree in audiology who has been given informal training in the administration of hearing test.

An audiometrist must work under the supervision of an audiologist or a physician. 

They can neither diagnose hearing disorders nor interpret audiograms.

The definition of Audiology, also listed under IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), is the responsibility to use his or her skills for the identification of people that are partially or fully deaf. Screening activities are generally considered health initiatives rather than special education responsibilities.

AUDIOGRAM- An audiogram is a graph produced as part of some hearing test that can be used to represent at what level of loudness you can hear different frequencies.

The audiogram form is arranged so that octave and half-octave frequencies range across the top, with the frequency increasing from left to right.

The hearing-level scale on the left side of an audiogram shows the strength of the test sound in decibels (dB).

EHDI

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Good news now being that thirty-eight states have Early Hearing Detection Intervention (EHDI) programs, which mandate that all newborns be screened for hearing loss before they are discharged from the hospital. You should check within your own home state to find the proper facility and hearing aid that would cater to your special needs.

At any time during your child’s life, if you and/or your pediatrician suspect that she has a hearing loss, insist that a formal hearing evaluation be performed promptly.

Management of these screenings are usually the responsibility of the audiologist. This is to make sure all the appropriate procedures are followed and all screening targets are met.

Local clinical audiologist, EHDI personnel, and the special educational audiologist work hand-in-hand combating critical health issues in a child’s hearing development.

Although some family doctors, pediatricians, and well-baby clinics can test for  fluid in the middle ear – a common cause of hearing loss – they cannot measure hearing precisely. Your child should go to an audiologist, who can perform this service. He or she may also be seen by an ear, nose, and throat doctor (ENT; an otolaryngologist).

teaching-sign-language-to-babies
Normal diagram with deep inner ear infection

Normal hearing is initially needed to understand spoken language and then, later, to produce clear speech.

Consequently, if your child experiences hearing loss during infancy and early childhood, it demands immediate attention.

Even a temporary but severe hearing loss during this time can make it very difficult for the child to learn proper oral language.

Most older children learn a combination of spoken and sign language. Written language also is very important because it is the key to educational and vocational success.

Learning excellent oral language is highly desirable, but not all people who are born deaf can master this.

Sign language is the primary way deaf people communicate with one another and the way many express themselves best.

If your child is learning sign language, you and your immediate family also must learn it. This way you will be able to teach him or her, discipline them, praise them, comfort them and laugh with him or her.

You should encourage friends and relatives to learn signing, too. Although some advocates in the deaf community prefer separate schools for deaf children, there is no reason for children with severe hearing impairment to be separated from other people because of their hearing loss. (See Teach A Deaf Child | Why An Insensitive Hearing Public?)

WHEN TO CALL THE PEDIATRICIAN – WHAT TO LOOK FOR:

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Hear are the signs and symptoms that should make you suspect that your child has a hearing loss and alert you to call your pediatrician:

  • Your child doesn’t startle at loud noises by one month or turn to the source of a sound by three or four months of age.

 

  • He or she doesn’t notice you until they see you.

 

  • He or she concentrates on gargling and other vibrating noises that they can feel, rather than experimenting with a wide variety of vowel sounds and consonants.

 

  • His or her speech is delayed or hard to understand, or he or she doesn’t say single words such as “dada” or “mama” by twelve to fifteen months of age. 

 

  • Your child doesn’t always respond when called. (This is usually mistaken for inattention or resistance, but could be the result of a partial hearing loss.)

 

  • He or she seems to hear some sounds, but not others. (Some hearing loss affects only high-pitched sounds; some children have hearing loss in only one ear.)

 

  • They seem to not only hear poorly, but also has trouble holding his head steady, or is slow to sit or walk unsupported. (In some children with sensorineural hearing loss, the part of the inner ear that provides information about balance and movement of the head is also damaged.)

INFORMATION REGARDING HEARING LOSS AS WE AGE:

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  • More than 28 million Americans have a hearing loss; 80 percent of those affected have irreversible and permanent hearing damage.
  • More than one-third of the United States population has a significant hearing loss by the age sixty-five.
  • Sixty percent of people with hearing loss are between the ages of twenty-one and sixty-five.
  • Sensorineural damage (damage to the hair cells and cochlea caused by genetics or exposure  to noise) is the largest, single form of hearing loss, affecting 17 million Americans.
  • At least 15 percent of the United States population is affected by tinnitus.
  • Persons older than fifty years of age are twice as likely to have tinnitus.
  • Meniere’s disease causes bilateral hearing loss in 5 to 20 percent of cases.
  • More than 75 percent of people with hearing loss could benefit from using a hearing aid.

Things to take into account regarding the aging population:

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  • Hearing loss can cause frustration; however, with education and proper attitude, the frustration and the disability can be lessened.
  • Responsive and experienced hearing health care providers are worth their weight in gold.
  • Family members, friends, and co-workers can provide a large measure of support, but they need to be educated to your needs and you to theirs.
  • The market is full of assistive devices that should be explored and used.
  • The technology used in hearing aids and assistive devices is burgeoning and improving.

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We all need to communicate effectively, In order to do this, I have a few suggestions:

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  • Learn as much as possible about your own hearing loss.
  • Learn what services are best provided by otolaryngologists, audiologist, and hearing aid specialist, and chose the professional who best provides the service you need.
teach-sign-language-to-babies
Patient getting ears checked by an ear specialist
  • Together with your hearing health care specialist, evaluate hearing aids and get the one – two if recommended – that best meets your needs.
  • Learn assertive techniques to use with family members and other people, such as “It would help me to understand you, if you faced me when you spoke” and “I can be a part of this conversation if only one of you speaks at a time.”
  • Find some other sources of support, as well. It is important to meet other people with similar hearing losses, and these people may be found through membership in groups such as SHHH.
  • Learn some basic sign language; if nothing else, learn the alphabet. On my friend’s trip abroad after he lost his hearing, he taught his daughter to fingerspell the alphabet. She then helped him with foreign names when he was having difficulty understanding them.
  • Find out which assistive listening and alerting devices can help you in various situations. Keep abreast of the latest technology, since it changes rapidly.
  • Keep your expectations for improvement realistic.
  • And more important than everything else, keep your sense of humor.

 

If you find the information in this post interesting & useful, please share it with your friends and colleagues on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus.

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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in September 12, 2016  and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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