boy wearing headphones

Hearing Screening at School: What to Expect if Your Child Gets Tested

The majority of children with congenital hearing loss will have the impairment identified at birth by a newborn screening, which has become a standard of care in hospitals nationwide. However, some types of hearing loss may not become evident until later in childhood.

Hearing screenings in schools play an important role in identifying children who may have hearing loss, putting them at risk for poor academic performance unless intervention and appropriate management is provided. Even a minimal hearing loss can make it hard for a child to listen and learn in a classroom.

Who gets a screening at school? (Guidelines may vary by state.)

  • Preschoolers attending a school based program
  • School-age children in grades Kindergarten, first, third, fifth, ninth and eleventh grades (students can be screened in additional grades if necessary)

How the screening works:

The examiner will measure soundwaves as your child wears headphones and may be asked to raise their hand or drop a toy into a bucket when they hear a sound. A child will pass if he or she responds at a sound level or volume of 20 decibels (dB) and at all frequencies tested in both ears.

What happens if a child fails the initial screening?

A child who fails an initial screening should be re-screened in 4-6 weeks. Children may have middle ear issues (i.e. colds, congestion, fluid behind the eardrums), difficulty with fit of the headphones, or the difficulty staying attentive to the task – all of which could interfere with the screening.

What happens if your child fails the repeat screening?

This does not mean your child has a hearing loss but it does warrant further testing by an audiologist to complete a more comprehensive hearing evaluation.

Signs for parents and teachers to watch for:

  • Difficulty understanding or following through with tasks
  • Child doesn’t respond or responds incorrectly
  • Speech/language concerns
  • Watches lips closely when someone talks and asks for things to be repeated
  • Difficulty understanding the other person on the phone
  • Complains of ear pain or noises
  • Speaks loudly
  • Poor academic performance

If your child fails a school screening or shows signs of difficulty hearing, it is strongly recommended to follow-up with an audiologist for further diagnostic testing. The earlier children with hearing loss are identified, the sooner we they can be provided necessary tools and resources to enhance their academic performance.

For more information on hearing loss listen to our PediaCast or for more information on Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s Audiology Services, click here.

Krista Winner AuD, CCC-A
Krista Winner is a Clinical Audiologist for the Audiology Department at Nationwide Children's Hospital. She completed her master’s degree in Audiology at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio in 2004 and her Doctorate of Audiology through the University of Florida in 2006. She practices full-time at Nationwide Children’s performing diagnostic hearing evaluations, Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) testing, hearing aid evaluations/ fittings, and cochlear implants. Krista joined the Audiology Department in January of 2015.

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