Working with and Testing Hearing for the Pediatric Patient takes some Skills!

Working with Children takes some intuition, empathy and art... as well as Technology!

I love working with children.  They say the darndest things and are so cute and sweet and fun.   Back in the day I lived in Florida and worked with the students with hearing loss in the Hillsborough Co. Public Schools.  Not only did we test the hearing of the students but also went from to school to school doing Aural (Re)habilitation with the students who needed a little extra listening practice.  I particularly liked working with the pre-teen students as they were interesting to me.  Now that I have teenage children of my own, it is still interesting but not as rewarding!  I am sure if you are a mom reading this you will understand that working with someone else’s teenager is much more fun!

Working with the Pediatric population is different than working with adults.

First of all, working with the pediatric population is more challenging at times because time is of essence.  Young children can get bored of a task very quickly and will stop giving us the information we are looking for.  For really young children one must play games to get responses of when they hear a sound.  Often children under three years old won’t just agreeably say, ‘Yes’ I hear that tone.  And ‘Yes’ I will repeat that word.  And ‘Yes’ I will do what you ask.  And ‘Yes’ I will sit still for 15 minutes waiting patiently.  So, we must be clever and play with them.  We enjoy them and skilled at getting that response.  And we as providers need to understand that some children will want the task to be finished so they can move on and may just start guessing.  Therefore, the first important factor working with children is consider the time.

Young children also want to have fun.

When we work with children let’s have fun with them and get the games ready.  I like stacking games the best but other games pediatric audiologists play tossing games, puzzle games and/or putting pegs in a hole.  We teach the children how to do a fun action when they hear a little sound or they get to point to a word.   The object is to wait for the sound and if they hear the sound, they get to stack up pegs and make a tall tower.  And we try and get a really tall tower!! Yay!  If they stack without a sound, they might even lose a peg and the tower gets shorter.  We want to make sure the child is really hearing something.  And I like colorful pegs and so do they.

Children can also be fearful of what you are doing.

Perhaps they are afraid you will hurt them with a shot or maybe something worse.  They may understand that their parents are worried that there is something wrong with them and they don’t want anything wrong with them so they will work hard to show you they are fine.  Or they won’t work at all and give us no responses because it is easier not to cooperate.  Many times children are referred to audiologists to rule out a speech or language concern and the child is already worried too.  Putting children’s concerns at ease is a priority.  I like to show them that I am human, a mother too and am here to just help them and their parents.

Working with a parent is also sensitive because parents don’t want to find anything wrong with their children.

I for one understand this because I am a mom and going to see any provider for my children has me on edge as to what is wrong.  My daughter failed a vision test at school when she was in third grade.  I was so scared because her father has a profound vision loss.  When we went to her appointment with the pediatric ophthalmologist and she started taking her test, I almost fainted with nervousness as she missed seeing those big letters! Luckily she is not blind or has a similar vision issue as her dad, she just has a vision loss that glasses can correct.  The ophthalmologist was kind and quickly tested her and put my fears to rest!!   Same would happen if I was sitting listening to her taking a hearing test and I could hear the tones but she couldn’t!  Very stressful.  Working with the parents takes empathy, care and compassion.

Children are not always able to tell you what they are experiencing.

This is especially true for younger children or children who may have had hearing loss since birth.  How do they know what they are suppose to be hearing or not hearing?   And sometimes some children don’t have the language to tell you that they like what they are hearing, or they don’t like what they are hearing.  Expressing their needs to an auditory sense of stimulation they don’t know well can be difficult if not totally impossible for the child.  Fitting a child with new hearing takes some skill as well as the intuition, fun and art.   It needs to be precise and we audiologists don’t want to give them too little amplification or too much.  We need to use tools and technology to help us with the objective measure to get the fitting of amplification just right.  Just like in the three little bears, we don’t want it too loud and we don’t want it too soft.  We want it just right.

Hearing helps develop speech and language and is critical for learning and reading in academics.  It is an important task to test and work with children and we take it seriously.  We also need to have fun with our pediatric population, not scare them and their parents.  We audiologists are here for our people and some of us love to be with children.  Come to Chears as we do love children and have lots of toys around plus for those lucky ones whose mom or dad will let them have a little treat, we’ve got it.   Call us today.  952- 767- 0672

Kim Fishman,  Audiologist


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