OHC: Different Hearing Tests for Children


There are many different types of hearing tests out there. The reason for all of these tests is that different tests are meant to examine different parts of the ear.

Furthermore, different tests are used for different age groups. What are some of these many hearing tests?

TympanometryThis test uses an instrument called a tympanogram, which measures the movement of the eardrum. While it is the most sensitive test for the detection of middle ear fluid and other middle ear problems, it does not evaluate whether hearing is normal. This test can be used for all ages.

Visual Reinforcement Audiometry (VRA): VRA is used to test babies ages 6 months and older. It involves observing the baby’s natural head turn to search for the source of sounds. VRA also involves teaching the baby to turn to look for the source of sounds by reinforcing the head turn with toys that light up. In the case that a head turn is not possible, the Behavioral Observation Audiometry (BOA) test might be used. The BOA involves observing hearing behaviors instead of head turns.

Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE): Also used on babies, this test uses a tiny, flexible earplug that’s inserted into the canal. Sounds are sent through the plug into the ear and a microphone in the plug records the otoacoustic emissions from the inner ear in reaction to these sounds. The presence of emissions is usually indicative of normal hearing.

Conditioned Play Audiometry: Used for toddlers, this test is made into a game. Sounds at different pitches are presented through headphones that the child wears, and the audiologist will ask the child to do something with a toy whenever he or she hears a sound. This test is imperfect in that it relies on the child’s cooperation and attention. Results therefore might not be an accurate reflection of the child’s hearing.

Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR): This sleeping hearing tests measures electrical responses of the inner ear and auditory nerve. Small sensors are placed on the forehead and behind the ears and plugs are put inside the ears. Sounds are presented through the plugs, and responses are recorded by the sensors. This test is used for babies and toddlers.

Pure Tone Audiometry: Used on older children (ages 4 and older), this test involves a child wearing a pair of headphones and raising their hand or pressing a button when they hear sounds presented through the headphones. These sounds are of different pitches and volumes.

If you’re looking for an ear doctor or hearing specialist in Oklahoma, visit the Oklahoma Hearing Center.


BC Children’s Hospital, Audiology Department. (2006).