Hearing and Balance
Especially for babies and young children, the ability to hear is important for understanding the world around them. It is also extremely important for the normal development of their speech. Hearing problems in children might not always be obvious, and their ability to hear may appear to change depending on their environment.
We provide audiological assessment and care for all children from newborn to school-leaving age living in the East Berkshire catchment area.
We also provide care for children with complex and multiple disabilities, children who are difficult to assess for whatever reason, and children who might be at increased risk of developing a permanent hearing impairment.
Most appointments are offered at King Edward VII Hospital in Windsor and St Mark’s hospital in Maidenhead, although some less complex and more routine appointments can be performed at Upton Hospital in Slough and Skimped Hill Health Centre in Bracknell.
We work closely with other professionals including Ear Nose and Throat Consultants, Teachers of the Hearing impaired, Specialist Speech and Language Therapists, Pediatricians and Social Services to provide a high quality and integrated service to children, young people and their families.
Our aim is to evaluate your child's hearing levels and identify if they have any hearing difficulties. For children under six months it is usually best if your child is asleep at the time of testing, because at that age they are usually too young to show reliable responses to the sounds that they hear. Over six months of age, most children are usually able to look for sounds; so we are able to teach them that when they look for a sound they are given a visual reward. Older children (usually from around two and a half to three years old and over) are taught games to play which involve responding when they hear a noise.
Tests will be chosen based upon observation of the child in clinic as well as information supplied by the parent/guardian and referrer. It is our aim to identify the nature, degree and extent of any potential hearing problem as soon as we can. Sometimes this might need to be done over a number of sessions so that we can gather as much accurate information as we can.
For more information on hearing tests please see the Self-help section below.
Some children experience temporary hearing loss caused by congestion behind the ear drum, which is commonly known as glue ear. At your appointment we will talk with you about the impact this may have on your child and how best to manage it. See the NHS conditions guide for more information.
Fitting hearing aids is an important part of our service. Hearing aids for permanent or temporary hearing losses can be fitted to children of any age. We’re also involved with the Newborn Hearing Screening program and can fit appropriate hearing aids to babies as young as two or three months old. See NHS choices for more information.
NHS hearing aids and hearing aid batteries use up-to-date digital technology and are provided free on the NHS and can come in a range of colours.
Our team has many years’ experience in testing and fitting hearing aids to babies and young children. The way we fit hearing aids is based on research, government and NDCS guidelines so you know we're giving you and your child the best possible care. Getting hearing aids can be daunting but we are here to help you, and there are lots of resources to help you and your child understand what is involved in having hearing aids. See the NDCS information for families guide for more information.
Hearing aids and hearing aid batteries are provided free on the NHS and are all up-to-date digital technology.
If we have found that your child has a permanent hearing loss, we will discuss with you what impact this is likely to have on your child. We will talk with you about how we can best provide audiological/hearing aid support and rehabilitation appropriate for your child and family, we will also signpost to any other services that may be of help to you.
If you have any concerns about your child’s hearing, ask your GP or Health Visitor for a referral to our Paediatric Audiology team.
Berkshire Hearing and Balance Service
Paediatric Audiology Service
King Edward VII Hospital
St Leonard's Road
Phone: 0300 365 6222
There are lots of useful websites with lots of information on hearing loss in children, including:
- National Deaf Children’s Society
- The Buzz: the website for deaf young people
- Action On Hearing Loss
- NHS Choices: Newborn hearing screening
- NIHR: C2Hear Online
- Talking Point
- NHS Choices: Glue Ear
Infant hearing test: YouTube video by University of Canterbury
Play audiometry test: YouTube video by NHS Forth Valley
Permanent hearing loss
My Baby has a hearing loss - what next? YouTube video by Evelina Centre at Guy's St Thomas' guide for parents of newly diagnosed children
My Baby has a Hearing Loss: National Deaf Children's Society booklet for newly diagnosed children
Speech and language developmental milestones information
Specialist local services helping with permanent hearing loss
Berkshire Healthcare Speech and language therapy service
Berkshire Healthcare Community Paediatrics service