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What to expect at your hearing service appointment

There are a few tests your child may need at their Hearing appointment.

The distraction test

The distraction test is ideally used for babies who are developmentally 6 to 8 months old and assesses their ability to hear a sound and then turn to face it. The loudness of the sounds are varied to try and find the minimum level that your baby can hear.

Watch a video of the distraction test here.

Auditory brain response

Auditory brain response is a way of checking hearing that can be used on anyone from babies to adults. Babies and young children need to be asleep for the test. Older children must lie very still or the test will not work. Ideally, we recommend you arrive at the appointment with your young child awake but ready for a sleep.

Watch a video of the auditory brain response test here.

Ear impression

If you would like hearing aids to help with your child’s hearing we will take impressions of their ears. This involves checking the ears with a light, then putting a sponge into the ear to act as a plug, then filling the ear with some medical putty that will set within a few minutes. Once everything is ready, we will take it out of the ear and give the ear one final check with the torch. We have different moulds and colours available to suit your child’s preferences.

Watch a video of the ear impression here.

Otoacoustic emissions

This is the same test that most babies have as part of a newborn hearing screening. Your baby needs to be settled and the room should be very quiet for this test, which takes just a few minutes. The audiologist will explain what the results mean after the test.

Watch a video of the otoacoustic emissions test here.

Otoscopy (ear examination)

We use a torch to check your child’s ear health and their eardrums. We examine the ears for any abnormalities.

Watch a video of the otoscopy here.

Performance test

Your child must be able to understand simple instructions and commands. We play a game where your child must do an action when they hear a sound. This could be putting toy people into a boat or building a tower from blocks. Your child might listen to sounds from a loudspeaker, headphones or have tiny probes called inserts put into their ear canals during the test. We play sounds at various frequencies, which are gradually reduced in loudness.

Watch a video of the performance test here.

Pure-tone test

School aged children are generally able to manage this test. Tones of varying frequency and intensity are played through the headphones or insert phones. Children must press a hand-held button for as long as they can hear a sound. The loudness of the sounds are reduced until they stop responding. This is the threshold of hearing which we then plot, creating an audiogram.

Watch a video of the pure-tone test here.


This test is used to check how well the sound is passing through the middle ear. The machine has a soft tip attached to it, and we take a trace of this. The test does not hurt. The audiologist records a trace and is able to see if your child has problems with the middle ear.

Watch a video of the tympanometry test here.

Visual reinforcement audiometry

The audiologist will play a sound from one of the loudspeakers near your child’s left or right ear. As your child turns to the sound, they will see an illuminated puppet in a box as a visual reward. In order to get ear specific hearing thresholds, your child may wear headphones or have small insert phones placed in their ear canals to create these sounds.

Watch a video of the visual reinforcement audiometry test here.

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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

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S10 2TH

United Kingdom

Switchboard: 0114 271 7000

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