Alert! Consult your doctor or an audiologist if there appears to be a sudden change in your child's hearing. Some conditions require prompt treatment to prevent permanent damage.
The Hearing Assessment Service offers free hearing assessments across South Australia for children 0-18 years old.
Hearing Assessment Service - Brochure (570kb)
A written referral is required prior to an appointment being arranged.
Most clients need to be referred into this program via their local Medical Officer, which may include:
- General Practitioner
- Ear Nose and Throat Specialist
Children who do not require a referral from their local Medical Officer are those who have been referred from:
- Country CaFHS sites
- Preschool hearing check
- Aboriginal Ear Health Projects
- Universal Neonatal Hearing Screening Program
- Youth Training Centres
- External Audiology Services (for example Flinders Medical Centre, Women’s and Children’s Hospital)
- Department for Child Protection
Referrals should be faxed or posted to Children’s Audiology Service:
- Fax: (08) 8303 1640
- Postal Address:
WCHN Children’s Audiology Service
295 South Terrace
Adelaide SA 5000
Please read this before you fill in the referral form (78kb)
Form - Referral for an assessment of hearing (137kb)
- Personal Health Record (Blue Book)
- Carer for any extra children
- Any previous hearing test results from other hearing service providers
This service is provided regularly in the following locations.
- Adelaide - 295 South Terrace
- Noarlunga Hospital - Alexander Kelly Drive
- Elizabeth - GP Plus Health Care Centre, 16 Playford Boulevard
- Port Augusta
- Port Lincoln
- Port Pirie
- Mt Gambier
- Murray Bridge
- Kangaroo Island
Business hours: Monday - Friday, 8am - 4.30pm
Telephone: (08) 8303 1530
Customer Feedback form (642kb)
Once a referral has been received you will receive a letter of confirmation and the referral will be triaged by an Audiologist. You will then receive a second letter requesting you call us to arrange an appointment for your child.
All appointments take approximately 30 minutes however please allow for extra time should testing take longer. Either one or two Audiologists will conduct the appointment. This will depend on your child’s age and stage of development. More than one appointment may be needed to define your child’s hearing ability.
The Audiologist will go over your child’s case history which may include asking about:
- Your child’s ear health (i.e. history of ear infections, surgery etc.)
- Family history of hearing loss
- Your child’s speech and language development
Various tests may be used throughout the appointment. These will include objective tests that do not require a behavioural response from your child and behavioural tests that require your child to respond to sound stimuli. Each test will be chosen based on your child’s needs and stage of development. For a more detailed description of each test please see below.
At the end of the appointment the Audiologist will explain the results and discuss whether any review appointments or referrals to external services (e.g. Speech Pathology, Ear Nose and Throat specialists) are required
A copy of the report and results will be forwards to you via post. If you prefer to receive a copy via email please inform the Audiologist at the time of your appointment.
One or more of these tests may be used in your child’s appointment.
- Otoscopy: an examination of the ear canal
- Tympanometry: An ear health check that can identify whether there is any fluid or congestion occurring in the middle ear and how well the eardrum is moving. This is not a hearing test.
- Otoacoustic Emissions (OAEs): An objective hearing screening that assesses the function of the outer hair cells of the cochlea (inner ear). Useful for children who are unable to complete behavioural testing, it can rule out a significant hearing loss and identify whether hearing is adequate for speech and language development.
- Behavioural Audiometry:
An appropriate test will be chosen based on your child’s stage of development. It may be one or more of the following:
- Behavioural Observation Audiometry (BOA): Typically used for children under six months of age, this test involves assessing the child’s behavioural response to sound. Various noisemakers such as rattles, chime bars and crunching cellophane are used to elicit a response which may include a startle, blinking, or trying to look for the sound. The noisemakers used include a range of frequencies/pitches (low, mid to high) and will help the audiologist gain information about the severity of a hearing loss and how well the child can identify different frequencies/pitches. While this test can give an indication to the severity of the hearing loss, it cannot provide definite hearing thresholds. This test assesses overall hearing (better ear) as the child does not wear headphones.
- Visual Reinforcement Audiometry (VRA): Typically used for children between the ages of six months to 2.5 – 3.5 years, this test involves teaching the child to turn their head towards a speaker every time a sound is presented. When the child turns their head a reward (e.g. puppet, flashing fan) is given. Using this method accurate hearing thresholds of the child’s overall hearing (i.e. the better ear) can be obtained. In cases where individual ear information is necessary and the child is able to tolerate wearing headphones, individual ear information can be obtained.
- Play audiometry (Play): Typically used when children are old enough to maintain attention and follow multi-step instructions (from 2.5 – 3.5 years), Play Audiometry involves the child responding to a sound stimulus by placing a coin into a cup or peg into a board. The aim is to make the test into a fun “game” so that a comprehensive set of results can be obtained. As the child wears headphones during testing, individual ear information can be obtained.
- Pure Tone Audiometry (PTA):
Typically used with Adults and children over 6 years, PTA involves listening for beeps and whistles and responding by pressing a button. PTA provides a comprehensive set of results. As the child wears headphones during testing, individual ear information can be obtained.
For more information on types of hearing losses and how to interpret results, visit the following topic:
Hearing Assessment Service operates within Children’s Audiology Service (Women's and Children's Health Network) which also includes the Universal Neonatal Hearing Screening Service (UNHS) and the Audiology Department at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital (WCH).
Universal Neonatal Hearing Screening
The Universal Neonatal Hearing Screening Program (UNHS) is a state-wide service coordinated by the Women's and Children's Health Network in South Australia. The Program provides free hearing screening to all new born babies to ensure early detection and implementation of intervention strategies for hearing loss.
For more information visit our Universal Neonatal Hearing Screening page.
Audiology Department, Women’s and Children’s Hospital
The Audiology Department provides an Audiology service for Paediatric Inpatients and for Paediatric Outpatient clinics, as well as for other specialised clinics in the Hospital. They also accept outside referrals from specialised medical professionals (e.g. Paediatrician, Ear Nose and Throat specialist).
The department works closely with the Department of ENT surgery and offers services to children with permanent hearing loss. For children with severe to profound hearing losses the department is able to provide assessments to establish Cochlear Implant candidacy. Hearing loss management includes close liaison with the ENT Department, Speech Pathology, Australian Hearing, and Educational Facilities.
For more information visit the Audiology page on the Women's and Children's Hospital web site.
Information on test types was sourced from:
All Child and Family Health Services are free and statewide. They are provided by qualified nurses, medical staff, audiologists, social workers, physiotherapists and Indigenous Cultural Consultants.