No child is too young to have a hearing evaluation. In Massachusetts, all babies are offered a newborn hearing screening prior to leaving the hospital. Those born at home are also able to have a newborn hearing screening. Based on the outcome of the screening, the infant may be referred to a diagnostic audiology center where special testing is performed to determine if there is hearing loss, how much, and what kind. This information is then use by centers like Clarke to fit amplification (hearing aids) to infants. No child is too young for a hearing test or amplification.
Research has shown that children who are screened at birth, receive all appropriate audiological and medical diagnostic evaluations by 3 months of age, and receive early intervention by 6 months of age, can develop spoken language and listening at the rate of their typically hearing peers.
In addition to the newborn hearing screening, there are several risk factors to keep in mind and a hearing test is recommended if:
- There is a family history of hearing loss
- ear, head, or neck malformations
- head trauma
- history of anoxia or infection at birth
- history of the use of ototoxic medications (when a medication damages
the inner ear)
- recurrent ear infections
- speech and language developmental delays
- changes in hearing (for example: listening to the television at high volume,
talking loudly, or not responding when the child’s name is called)
While 70% of our patient base is adult, 30% is pediatric. That is an extremely large population for any location to carry. What that means is that Clarke has a special take on hearing loss and children. Working with families, providers, educators, and schools, Clarke and the child with hearing loss can be supported and have success in the mainstream.
Local pediatricians know when they have a patient who didn’t pass a hearing screening or one who isn’t talking yet, the family and physician will get answers when they send them to Clarke. Performing audiologic testing on the pediatric population requires flexibility, innovation, and patience. The end result is information that can be used to treat the whole child.
For those young patients with permanent hearing loss, even a mild hearing loss, the child’s ability to speak, understand language or participate in a classroom fully can be negatively affected. At Clarke, we use state of the art technology and innovative testing to assess your child’s hearing starting at 6 months of age. With the help of detailed information provided from infant diagnostic centers, we can treat your child’s hearing loss by fitting amplification at any age.
School age children benefit from Clarke through comprehensive educational evaluations. Through this process, our audiologists team with a teacher of the deaf, a school psychologist, and a speech language pathologist to provide a comprehensive assessment of your student’s strengths and weakness. We evaluate how much the hearing loss is impacting their school work, what other learning difficulties may be present, and how to best support that student in the mainstream. The best part is after the evaluation, the student, family, and school have a plan they can follow which will lead them through academic success over the next three years.
Other students come to Clarke just for audiological support. Providing educational based reports that are easy to read, our audiologists share their knowledge and insight with teachers, making sure the student has access to the curriculum through listening. This may be accomplished with visual supports as well.
Following best clinical practice guidelines for pediatrics, we support listening in the classroom through amplification and remote microphone hearing assistance technology (formerly called FMs) fittings, assessments, and support. We take the time to perform measures and evaluate the functional listening of our student clients to assure they have the greatest chance for success in the Mainstream and in life.
Schools have the option of contracting with us to provide:
Annual Electroacoustic Verification and Functional Validation Measures with Programming: Behavioral testing and electroacoustical testing following professional guidelines (ASHA, AAA, Educational Audiology Association) to ensure child is receiving anticipated benefit from the FM/Remote Microphone Hearing Assistance Technology (HAT) equipment. This appointment occurs at our facility at the beginning of the school year with the child’s personal equipment and the school’s Remote Mic. HAT system. Equipment is tested objectively, electroacoustically evaluating the transmission of the signal to assure the appropriate level of audibility across frequencies. If necessary, adjustments are made to reduce the likelihood of rejection due to too strong of a signal or lack of benefit due to too weak of a signal. The student also listens in the soundbooth in quiet and in noise to assess the functional benefit from the Remote Mic. HAT system. The child and family are counseled to the results. This is a critical step in both the fitting process and the annual upkeep of the Remote Mic. HAT system.
Service Plan Options: FM/Remote Mic. HAT systems are small electronic devices that are exposed to moisture, dirt, and excessive handling on a routine basis. They do occasionally breakdown during the school year and unforeseen problems arise.
Option 1: Comprehensive Service Plan (recommended) This plan includes all services of the verification and validation measures, troubleshooting, loaner, and extended year clean and check service plans. This plan is the most comprehensive to best support the student and staff in consistent use of the equipment and provides the student with appropriate access to the curriculum.
Option 2: Basic Service Plan – Verification and Validation, Troubleshooting and Loaner package (no EYS): includes Verification and Validation, unlimited support via phone, distance technology and/or email, as well as troubleshooting at our clinic. Loaner transmitter and receivers will be provided, as available, while your items are in for repair. Audio shoes are not lent out as part of this agreement. If it is determined that an audio shoe is defective, we will work with the school to get you a replacement ASAP. While many problems can be addressed and prevented through extended year clean and check service, the systems do occasionally breakdown during the school year and unforeseen problems arise.
Option 3: Extended Year Clean and Check Service Plan with Verification and Validation (no troubleshooting): Verification and validation to occur in the fall. At the end of the school year, the equipment is returned to Clarke by June 30th for Extended Year Clean and Check servicing. Equipment is dropped off at our facility at the end of the school year to be thoroughly cleaned, visually inspected, and listened to for any obvious signs of disrepair. Rechargeable transmitter batteries that can be replaced in house will be changed and fully charged. Repairs will be conducted in house or under manufacturer warranty as needed.
Note: Service Plans do not include any out of warranty manufacturer repair costs. For those items out of warranty, additional charges apply and a purchase order will be requested from the district prior to facilitating the repair of these parts.
FM/HAT In-Service Options:
In-service Option 1: In-service at our site in Northampton or
In-service Option 2: In-service via distance learning (Skype) or
In-service Option 3: In-service at your location
In-services include, a one-hour meeting with your staff members to explain a student’s hearing loss, it’s impact for the student listening in a classroom, their equipment, it is proper use, troubleshooting, and the opportunity to listen to a hearing aid with an FM/Remote Mic. HAT system attached (available during an on-site in-service only). These sessions are designed to optimize your teaching strategies to help the student reach their full potential in the classroom. All staff members that will be working with the student are encouraged to attend. Many troubleshooting problems that occur during the school year can be solved by a school staff member who has received an in-service and works via distance with Clarke without the need to transport the system to Clarke Hearing Center. To keep your students on the air and limit their time without a Remote Mic. HAT system, an in-service is strongly recommended.
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