After 17 months, we finally have a definitive result from Colin's hearing test...he passed with flying colors! It has been such a long journey to get to this point, but we are so happy with the results. Aside from Colin's initial test at birth, which he passed, we have yet to get solid results because the original audiologist we were seeing either couldn't get the ear pieces to stay, OR, he had some congestion, OR because they had the wrong size for his ear. Our pediatrician finally referred Colin around 14 months to the ENT and we are so happy with him. He has provided extremely valuable information to us in a way that the layperson can easily understand, he talks to Colin and not just about him, and, he handles his diagnosis in an extremely professional manner.
Most of the tests that have been performed on Colin have been OAE tests, or Otoacoustic emissions Tests. With these types of tests, a tiny probe is put into his ear, and many pulse-type sounds are introduced. From these sounds, a response is generated from the inner ear. The results are averaged and information is aquired as to how well the ear is functioning. There are many factors that can affect these results, such as congestion, ear wax buildup, etc. so even with a failed result, it does not definitively mean that the child cannot hear. Often, failed results refer to an Ear Nose and Throat doctor.
At birth, and in Colin's case, around 12 months of age, an ABR test is performed, or Auditory Brainsteam Response. This type of test generally rules out "worst case scenario" and determines how well the nerve is functioning. In this test, tiny probes are placed in the ears in addition to electrodes placed strategically on the child's head. Click type sounds are introduced into the ear and the computer measures how well the nerve responds to these sounds. Again, there are factors that may influence the results, but generally, this type of testing gives a pretty good idea whether or not the infant/young child has hearing in the normal range.
Finally, at this most recent visit, Colin had a Behavioral Test performed in which he sat in a special booth with Chris directly centered between two speakers. This test measures the child's response to calibrated speech and pure tones (distinct pitches of sounds). The behavioral response could be any way in which the child responds to the sounds. In Colin's case, although one ear was slightly different from the other, they were both within normal range.
Although we will need to continue to follow up every 3 months with the ENT to monitor any sort of fluid in Colin's ear, the doctor is extremely happy with the status of Colin's ears given the nature of reoccurring problems in the inner and outer ear with children with Down Syndrome. We love hearing things like that!