Auditory Processing Evaluations
At Tennessee Valley Audiology we assess (central) auditory processing in both children and adults. Auditory processing evaluations start with a thorough assessment of the ears and hearing. Since the ears are the input to the system, it is imperative that we know how they are working. Hearing loss due to middle or inner ear problems will impact the outcome of the auditory processing tests, and at the very least we need to account for such deficits. A full 20% of the children we see have an ear issue, usually middle ear fluid/infection on the day of their evaluation. To that end, we start with a thorough visual inspection (otoscopy) and then proceed with a hearing test including middle ear assessment with tympanometry and reflex studies, pure tone audiometry and speech understanding testing. We then want to take a detailed look at how the inner ear receptor cells for hearing are working using distortion product otoacoustic emission testing. If we are satisfied that the peripheral hearing mechanisms (outer, middle and inner ears) are functioning properly, we then test the central auditory nervous system (CANS). With the central auditory tests we need to use more complex signals than the basic tones or beeps of the audiogram. Central auditory tests tax the auditory system by using signals of reduced redundancy (filtered speech), dichotic speech (simultaneous presentation of two words, one to each ear), overloading signals (hearing two speech signals at once and ignore a specified signal) and other taxing types of stimuli. Due to the complex nature of the testing, it is not feasible to assess auditory processing in young children. In our clinic we limit our tests to children six years and older. Six year children must have completed kindergarten.