Hearing management

Updated 11 December 2017

Hearing impairment identified too late

The average age at which children with a hearing loss are identified is two years and four months. In some cases it can be as late as six years. This week is Deaf Awareness Week.

A hearing loss is an invisible problem that can go unnoticed for years. It is therefore imperative that children should undergo hearing screening tests before the age of at least nine months.

The sooner a hearing deficiency is diagnosed, the better. Nowadays even a newborn baby’s hearing can be tested directly after birth. In the United States it is now compulsory to screen a newborn baby’s hearing. The hearing screening test results appear on the birth certificate.

Unfortunately the average age at which children with hearing loss are identified is two years and four months. In some cases it can be as late as six years. This is too late and it weakens the prospects for adequate communication in the hearing world. This is because the first three years of a child’s life are the most important time for a child to acquire speech and language and thus learn to communicate with others.

How can one identify hearing loss?
Although children may exhibit symptoms of hearing loss, the only way that it can be determined for sure is through adequate testing. No whisper tests or home-made tests can do this. Testing must be performed by a qualified person such as an audiologist, using a properly functioning audiometer.

Hearing tests are performed to determine whether a person has a hearing loss, how severe the loss is, in which part of the ear the damage is, and what aid s/he can receive.

A person’s hearing loss is graphed on an audiogram.

(Liesel van Niekerk, author of the Listening and Language Home Programme, updated December 2008)


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Hearing Expert

Dr Kara Hoffman graduated from UCT in 2004, thereafter she completed her year of community service in Durban. In 2010 she completed her Masters Degree in Paediatric Aural Rehabilitation from UKZN. In 2016, she became a Doctor of Audiology through the University of Arizona (ATSU). Dr Hoffman and her partner Lauren Thompson opened a fully diagnostic audiology practice called Thompson & Hoffman Audiology Inc. In 2011 with world-class technology and equipment to be able to offer the broad public all hearing-related services including hearing testing for adults and babies, vestibular (balance) assessments and rehabilitation, industrial audiology, hearing devices, central auditory processing assessments for school-aged children, school screening, neonatal hearing screening programmes at Alberlito and Parklands Hospital, cochlear implants and other implantable devices, medicolegal assessments and advanced electroacoustic assessments of hearing. Thompson and Hoffman Audiology Inc. are based at Alberlito Hospital in Ballito, St Augustines Hospital in Durban and at 345 Essenwood Road, Musgrave. The practices are all wheelchair friendly. There are three audiologists that practice from Thompson & Hoffman – including Dr Kara Hoffman, Lauren Thompson & Minette Lister. The practice boasts professional, highly qualified, and extensive diagnostic services where all your hearing healthcare needs can be met. The additional licensing in vestibular assessment and rehabilitation, paediatric rehabilitation and cochlear implantation places this practice in one of the top specialist audiological positions in South Africa, with a wealth of experience in all clinical areas of audiology and is a very well respected and sought-after practice.

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