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He Failed Hearing Screening! What’s Next?

Wondering if your child has a hearing loss can be scary.

What do you do if your child has failed a hearing screening? What if they are actually diagnosed with a hearing loss? What are the next steps? This section explores what to expect once you’ve found out your child has failed a hearing screening or that your child has a hearing loss.

Doesn't being scared quoteBabies: If you’ve been assured that failing a hearing screening is often due to ear infection you need to know that often times 1 out of every 10 babies that fail a newborn hearing screening have permanent hearing loss. Of those that are identified, 19 out of 20 are in families where there is no history of childhood hearing loss. More about newborn hearing screening.

Children: An unidentified hearing loss in a preschool or school-age child often is mistaken for inattention (ADHD), socially awkward (autism spectrum), delays in learning that get bigger every year (cognitive impairment). Yet, hearing loss is a barrier to accessing spoken language and the learning delays that can happen are NOT the result of a brain disorder. If hearing loss is addressed in infancy, learning delays, social and behavioral issues need never arise. Take action now.

“My child failed a hearing screening – what now?”

If your child failed a hearing screening, the first thing to do is to get your child’s hearing tested by an audiologist who specializes in evaluating children.

Sometimes the problem is due to an ear infection – sometimes it is permanent. Only testing will confirm hearing ability and the cause if there is a problem. This hearing evaluation cannot be done accurately or completely at your child’s doctor’s office.

If your child is under age 3 years, then your state Part C Early Intervention Program  may pay for a hearing evaluation as part of a comprehensive evaluation to determine if early services are needed.

If your child is 3 years or older, you can request that hearing be screened as part of the requirement that the school district perform Child Find. Sometimes this is a hearing screening at a school by the school nurse.

“What can I expect after a diagnosis of hearing loss by an audiologist?”

The best feeling quoteOnce your child has a received a diagnosis of hearing loss the audiologist will make any necessary referrals. This may include a referral back to the child/family physician, a referral to an ear-nose-throat specialist or a referral for further testing. If no referrals or further testing is necessary, the audiologist may make a recommendation for hearing aids. It is best to have your child fit with hearing aids as soon as possible, as this will provide them with the best access to their auditory world.  There are many factors which will affect the type of hearing aid(s) fit to your child. The dispensing audiologist will work with you and will make the best recommendations for your child.

Upon learning that your child has a hearing loss,
you may feel a variety of emotions such as anger, confusion, sadness or even grief . These are common reactions and it is important to know that you are not alone. As Corinne Altman (a mother of a child with hearing loss) states in her letter to parents, titled A Parent Who’s Been There, the most crucial and probably the most difficult thing you can do is to accept that your child has hearing loss and celebrate the whole of your child, understanding that this will not define them.

Read about:

Other parents’ journey understanding and accepting their child’s hearing loss at the Alexander Graham Bell Association’s  You Are Not Alone webpage.

How having a child with a difference can change a parent’s outlook in the article Welcome to Holland 

10 things I wish you knew  – From a special kid to special parents.


National Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Program http://www.ehdipals.org/ParentResources/EP_Tips_Parents.aspx

Downloadable PDFs:

What should I do if my baby fails a hearing screening? http://successforkidswithhearingloss.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/WhatShouldIDo.pdf

Phonak Brochure:  My Child Has Hearing Loss – A Guide For Parents


Web page revised April 2017. Revised content provided by Krista Yuskow, educational audiologist with our sincere thanks and appreciation!