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The world around us is filled with the sounds of everyday living – birds chirping, airplanes roaring, parents’ speaking, sirens wailing, and music playing. A child’s sense of hearing impacts not only his/her ability to hear sounds and comprehend the world around him/her, but also the ability to develop speech and language, to cultivate social and emotional well-being, and to succeed in school and at work.
Hearing loss can be transient (temporary), short-term, or permanent in one or both ears. A baby may be born with hearing loss (congenital loss). Other babies develop what is called late-onset or delayed hearing loss at sometime after their newborn hearing screening. Still others develop progressive hearing loss at an older age. Some children lose their ability to hear due to a traumatic head injury or an illness that develops in childhood, such as meningitis. Children who are treated for cancer with chemotherapy are at risk for developing a hearing loss.
At the Kireker Center for Child Development, we evaluate and diagnose all types of hearing disorders in children from birth to age 21. We consider each child’s individual and unique abilities in determining which tests will be most appropriate. We also have a pediatric hearing aid dispensary located on site for your convenience.
In New Jersey, it is a state law that all newborns must be tested prior to their discharge from the hospital. If your baby was born prematurely or has spent time in The Valley’s Hospital neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) or another hospital’s NICU, your baby may be at risk to develop hearing loss. In addition to routine newborn hearing testing, your baby may also undergo a test called an auditory evoked brainstem test or other testing if the baby’s initial testing results are not normal.
If your child is diagnosed with a hearing loss, we can refer him/her to a pediatric otolaryngologist, geneticist, or other physician specialists for follow-up care. We also make recommendations for school accommodations for hearing loss or hearing aids. Our audiologists are always available to speak with child-study teams, teachers, and other education professionals.
If you suspect that your child may be experiencing a hearing loss or is delayed in beginning to speak or communicate, we encourage you to call your child’s pediatrician, nurse practitioner, or other healthcare provider, or call us at the Kireker Center for Child Development at 201-612-1006 as soon as possible.
Our Audiology Services
At the Kireker Center for Child Development, our Audiology Department is located on the first floor. We provide the following audiology services:
- complete audiological evaluations (in soundfield and using earphones), including pure tone testing, immitance, and otoacoustic emissions testing in soundfield and using ear phones
- central auditory processing disorder (CAPD) evaluations
- auditory evoked brainstem response evaluations, including NICU and newborn follow-up
- pediatric hearing aid dispensary, including real-ear measurements and speech-mapping, repair services, and custom ear molds even if the hearing aids were not purchased at our center
- swim molds
Audiologist Patricia Connelly
Our lead audiologist is Patricia Connelly, Ph.D., who has more than 30 years of experience in providing pediatric audiology services. Dr. Connolly completed her undergraduate degree in speech-language pathology at Douglass College of Rutgers University, her master of arts degree in audiology at Wayne State University in Detroit, and her doctorate in audiology at Michigan State University. Dr. Connelly has her Certificate in Clinical Competence in Audiology and is certified by the American Board of Audiology. She is licensed as an audiologist and hearing aid dispenser.
All of our pediatric audiologists have completed advanced degrees and are licensed in audiology.
To Make An Appointment
To make an appointment for your child for a hearing evaluation or hearing aid services, please call 201-612-1006 weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. We are located on the first floor of The Valley Hospital’s Kireker Center for Child Development at 505 Goffle Road, Ridgewood, N.J. 07450.
We participate in most major health insurance plans. Please check with your carrier for specifics about what services are covered by your individual health insurance policy. Depending on when your child’s first appointment is scheduled, we may either ask you to come early to fill out the necessary paperwork or mail you a packet of information to bring with you. Please bring with you any referrals, co-payments, pre-authorization information, or other forms that your insurance policy requires for reimbursement or payment.
In New Jersey, Grace’s Law compels health insurance companies to provide coverage for pediatric hearing aids. If you are an employee of Valley Health System, your health insurance covers pediatric hearing aids for your dependents.
Special Child Health Services may also provide assistance in purchasing hearing aids. Our audiologists can assist you in learning more about these services.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. How old must a baby be to be tested for a hearing disorder?
A. A baby can be tested within hours of being born to determine if there is hearing loss and to what degree. At the Kireker Center for Child Development, we evaluate babies from a few weeks old up until 21 years of age.
Q. Must my child be sedated before a hearing test?
A. Routine hearing tests do not require sedation. During a hearing test, we evaluate each child’s ability to respond to sounds so he/she needs to be awake and alert. When we evaluate babies, we try to test them during a time when they are sleepy and fed so they are not cranky or crying. Very rarely do we need to sedate a child prior to a hearing test.
Q. Could my baby/child be at risk for developing a hearing loss?
A. There are a number of factors that could put your baby or young child at risk for a hearing loss. These include being born prematurely (before 38 weeks of pregnancy) or spending more than five days in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) after birth. Other risk factors include a family history of hearing loss; a neurodegenerative disorder; a culture-positive post-natal (after birth) infection, such as meningitis, herpes virus, or varicella; treatment with chemotherapy or antibiotics; or a traumatic head injury. Older children may suffer a hearing loss from a skull-based or temporal bone fracture of the head that requires hospitalization, such as an injury that occurs from a motor vehicle accident or from roller skating, skateboarding, or riding a bike without a helmet.
Q. Why does my child need a hearing test before a speech-language evaluation?
A. In many children, hearing loss can contribute to or cause a delay in speech and language development. By doing the hearing test first, we will know whether a hearing loss can be ruled out or whether a loss is contributing to a speech-language delay.
Q. My child was diagnosed with a hearing loss. Will hearing aids be enough for him to hear in school?
A. Hearing aids are as essential for a child to hear as eyeglasses are to correct a vision problem. Depending on your child’s degree of hearing loss and the recommendations of our audiologist and an educational audiologist affiliated with your child’s school, we may advise that your child use a personal FM system to help your child hear his/her teacher more clearly in the classroom.
Q. What other hearing assistance will help my child in school?
A. Some children must be given extra time to take tests. Others need a teacher of the deaf or hard-of-hearing. Your school’s child-study team or educational audiologist will advise you about these services. Every school’s goal is to keep a child with a hearing loss in a regular classroom with his/her peers as much as possible. Special school placement is usually not necessary for children with hearing loss.