Hearing is essential for the development of speech, language, and learning. The earlier that hearing loss occurs in a child’s life, the more serious is the effect on the child’s development. Similarly, the earlier the hearing loss is identified and intervention begun, the more likely it is that the delays in speech and language development will be diminished.

The Audiology Clinic at Kennedy Krieger Institute evaluates, diagnoses, and treats infants, children and adults with hearing disorders. The goal of the Audiology Clinic is to diagnose and treat hearing loss in children as early as possible.

Who We Serve:

We specialize in hearing evaluations of patients from birth to 21 years of age, including children with complex developmental and medical conditions. Our pediatric audiologists are skilled in evaluation of newborns, and use state-of-the art procedures to provide comprehensive diagnostic evaluation of infants at risk for hearing loss.

We also evaluate and treat hearing loss in adults.

Our Audiology Team:

All faculty and staff audiologists at Kennedy Krieger are licensed by the Maryland Board of Examiners of Audiologists and hold doctoral degrees. All staff have special expertise in treating infants and children with multiple developmental concerns, as well as typically developing infants and young children with speech and language delays. Appropriate techniques are available for all ages and levels of development.

Our Treatment Approach:

We offer a wide variety of procedures and services to assess and treat a child’s ability to hear and process sounds at various stages of their development. Our comprehensive approach includes collaboration with specialists in speech language pathology, developmental medicine, and other disciplines to provide specialized care tailored to each patient’s unique set of needs.

Some of our services include:

  • Comprehensive Audiological and Hearing Aid Evaluations – These assessments determine a child’s ability to hear using behavioral and non-invasive, objective procedures. In very young children, we observe behavior or use procedures such as cartoon-like videos as reinforcement to encourage a child to turn in the direction of a sound. We use more advanced procedures for older children.

    The evaluations also include measures of speech processing, auditory function (e.g. tympanometry, acoustic reflex measurements), and otoacoustic emissions that require no response from the child.

  • Auditory Evoked Potential Measurements – This test measures the brain wave activity that occurs in response to clicks or certain tones. ABR can be administered under natural sleep conditions or during moderate sedation using a nasal mist. During sedated procedures, children's vital signs are continuously monitored physiologically, as well as by a nurse, and a physician is immediately available, if needed.
  • Hearing Aid Dispensary – Hearing aid services use both objective measurements and developmentally appropriate behavioral tests to select a hearing aid that meets the need of each patient, and that a child receives optimal benefit.
  • Auditory Processing Evaluations – These evaluations assess how the central nervous system utilizes auditory information. These tests require listeners to attend to speech and other auditory signals and respond to them. Other tests that measure the auditory system’s physiologic responses to sound are also administered.

Success Story:

Dante was nearly five years old, but he was still saying only a few words. He was enrolled in an early intervention special education program in the Baltimore City Public Schools (BCPS) for two years. An audiological evaluation at Kennedy Krieger Institute revealed a moderate to severe hearing impairment. He was referred for otolaryngological management for further diagnosis. The ear, nose and throat (ENT) physician diagnosed a middle ear effusion and recommended that Dante should have pressure/equalization (P/E) tubes inserted in his ears. After this common surgical procedure, Dante returned for a follow-up audiological evaluation that showed that his hearing had improved greatly, with hearing loss in one ear measuring in the almost normal to slight hearing loss range, and mild to moderate hearing loss in the other ear.

Hearing aid services recommended a hearing aid for Dante and an FM system for him to use at school. After about six months of using the hearing aid together with speech and language therapy in the BCPS, Dante is now enrolled in a regular classroom and speaking in full sentences.

Research Areas:

  • Hearing loss and auditory processing in neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental disorders
  • Audiological assessment utilizing ABR and OAE's
  • Auditory function and processing in individual's with ASD

Related Materials and Information:

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