What is an audiologist?
An audiologist is a licensed professional with a doctoral or master’s level degree who can perform the tests required to fully and accurately assess hearing loss and determine the best course of action for treatment and management.
How old does my child need to be in order to have a hearing test?
A child can be tested at any age. Children routinely have their hearing screened at birth before leaving the hospital. Testing on newborns and young infants includes a procedure called otoacoustic emissions (OAE). During this procedure a small microphone is placed in the child’s ear canal. Sounds are presented to the ear and a healthy inner ear responds by making another sound that is picked up by the microphone. Once babies are approximately six months old, different types of behavioral tests can be used. These tests vary according to the child’s age and developmental level.
My child gets frequent ear infections. Can this affect hearing?
Yes. Ear infections can cause fluid to develop in the middle ear space. Once the ear infection clears up, the fluid can also resolve over time. Sometimes the Eustachian tube is also involved and does not allow the ear to get the proper amount of air exchange needed to clear up the fluid. When fluid remains in the middle ear space, hearing loss can occur. This loss of hearing is called a conductive hearing loss and is often temporary with appropriate medical treatment. A complete evaluation is needed to determine the extent of the hearing loss and to help the physician determine the best course of treatment for your child.
I think I have a hearing loss. What do I do now?
Hearing evaluations are frequently covered by insurance. Check your insurance plan or contact your physician for a referral. When you arrive for your appointment, the audiologist will take a thorough history and perform a complete evaluation based on your symptoms. The audiologist will discuss the results with you and go over recommendations for treatment. If hearing instruments are recommended as part of your treatment, you will have opportunities to discuss what technology is most appropriate for your needs. This may happen during the initial appointment or you may schedule a separate appointment for this discussion.
Are hearing aids covered by insurance?
Most hearing instruments are not covered by insurance. Medicare does not cover hearing instruments. MaineCare covers hearing instruments for children only. A recent law passed in Maine provides limited hearing aid coverage for children. You should contact your insurance carrier to see if your plan provides any hearing instrument benefits.
What is speech-language pathology? What do you treat?
Speech and language pathology is the study of communication and its disorders. Communication has many aspects, including the use of language, understanding of language, and sounds of language production. Speech-language pathologists treat a variety of disorders, including expressive (use) and receptive (understanding) disorders, disorders of speech sounds, stuttering, social language/pragmatic disorders, and cognitive disorders as they relate to language. We work with a variety of clients, including individuals with specific medical diagnoses (e.g., Autism, degenerative diseases, traumatic brain injuries), children who need help with their speech and language development, and individuals who need rehabilitative services following injury or stroke.
What is speech-language pathology? What should I do if I suspect that an individual has a speech/language disorder?
First, you should discuss concerns with your primary care physician. For children, your pediatrician may be able to determine if your child is meeting developmental milestones. Typically, children will say their first word at 12-15 months and start combining words around two years of age, although this varies from individual to individual. In terms of speech sounds, you should be able to understand at least half of what your child says by age 2 and most of what he or she says by age 4. If you have concerns that your child has not reached these milestones or he/she is showing frustration with communication, a speech and language evaluation may be needed. For adults, if you feel you are having trouble effectively communicating or understanding others, a speech and language evaluation may help determine the reason for these difficulties. For all individuals, having your hearing screened or evaluated is an integral part of the evaluation process.
What will happen when I contact Northeast Hearing & Speech (NHS)?
What occurs during an evaluation?
On the day of your evaluation, you will be seen by an ASHA-certified Speech-Language Pathologist. This person will discuss your speech and language concerns and tailor the evaluation specifically to these concerns. This may include an interview with you, standardized testing, observation, and/or a review of other reports. At the end of the evaluation, the clinician will discuss his/her findings with you and determine the best course of action. This may include re-evaluation, therapy, or referral to other community resources.
What occurs during therapy?
Therapy is highly individualized and tailored to the communication needs of the client. Therapy may occur on a consultative basis or via direct services. Direct services are typically provided in 30 minute sessions, one to three times per week. Our clinic provides services within our clinic setting as well as in community-based settings such as daycares, preschools, specialized educational settings, and school-based settings. Your clinician will discuss the therapeutic plan with you and provide written plans and updates regarding these services.
Will insurance cover speech and language evaluations and therapy?
Some insurance companies will cover evaluations and therapy; however, each plan is different. Check your insurance policy and bring that information with you to your appointment. Most policies require a physician’s referral. Northeast Hearing and Speech also works with community and state/federal programs that may be funding sources for evaluations and therapy. We are contract providers for Child Development Services, the State of Maine’s early intervention system responsible for providing children aged birth to five years with support and intervention services. If services are not covered by one of these funding sources, our agency has a sliding fee scale (applications are available upon request).
Have a question we didn’t answer? Please feel free to contact us today with any questions. We look forward to seeing you at your appointment!
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