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Hearing and speech are essential to learning for children. Most babies are born with normal hearing but every year three out of every 1,000 babies are born with hearing loss. This loss can be in one or both ears. Hearing loss in children can affect the way their brain develops causing far-reaching effects. These may include difficulties with speech and language, impaired social emotional development and reduced academic performance.
Signs and symptoms of hearing loss in children can be different for every child. If your child was born with hearing loss, it is most often discovered during a newborn hearing screening in the medical center shortly after birth. Most of the complications of hearing loss can be prevented if your child is diagnosed by 3 months of age and appropriate treatment begins before your child is 6 months old. If the hearing loss happened after your child was born, you might be one of the first people to notice hearing or speech difficulties.
At Cook Children's, our audiologists have doctorate level degrees in audiology and are uniquely trained to provide skilled and compassionate care for your child. Our team works closely with your family, speech pathologists, school personnel and physicians to ensure you child's success.
Our outpatient rehabilitation clinics provide diagnostic hearing and vestibular testing as well as hearing aid and cochlear implant testing and programming services.
We also have an audiology team at the main medical center providing the ability to complete hearing evaluations during your child's inpatient stay if needed.
With in-house audiology services available at all our Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) clinics, our team of audiologists work collaboratively alongside our physicians to provide comprehensive information regarding hearing levels for children with a variety of conditions from ear infections and eustachian tube dysfunction to atresia and hearing loss.
You can be confident your child will receive expert clinical care at Cook Children's from audiologists trained to diagnose and assist children and families towards health and success.
Find more information on vestibular disorders here
There are three main types of hearing loss. These types of hearing loss can be present at birth or acquired after birth.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SNHL): This type of hearing loss is related to the inner ear or the neural connection to the brain.
Conductive Hearing Loss (CHL): This type of hearing loss occurs in the outer or middle ear.
Mixed Hearing Loss (MHL): This is simply a combination or mix of both SNHL and CHL.
Hearing loss in children can be present at birth (congenital) or acquired later in childhood.
Loud noise and sounds can be damaging to a person's hearing. The level of noise and the length of time you listen can put your and your child at risk for noise-induced hearing loss. Sound levels are measured in decibels (dB). The higher the decibel (dB) number the more at risk you are for this type of hearing loss. Sounds that are louder than 85 dB can cause permanent hearing loss.
Hearing aids – These electronic, battery-operated devices can amplify and modify for your child. A wide variety of colors and styles are available for you and your child. A Cook Children's pediatric audiologist will be there to guide you in this process.
Cochlear implants – This is a surgically placed device that helps to transmit electric stimulation to the inner ear. Only certain types of children are candidates for this type of device, the most likely candidates are children with severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL). Find more information about cochlear implants.
Bone anchored devices – This is a device for children with conductive hearing loss, mixed hearing loss, or single sided deafness (SSD). A bone anchored device can be utilized after birth like a hearing aid or it can be implanted later by an otologist.
Caitlin Gerhards, Au.D., CCC-A, has been a pediatric audiologist at Cook Children's since 2019. Dr. Gerhards completed her doctorate education with an emphasis on pediatric audiology at the University of Washington in Seattle. Since that time, she has continued to focus her career on the pediatric population with a special interest in diagnostic evaluations, high-risk audiologic monitoring and amplification services. Dr. Gerhards' aim is to provide comprehensive, evidence-based care to each patient and assist families in making the best decisions for their child's hearing health care needs. She enjoys the caring, family-centered environment of Cook Children's and partnering with patients and families to help achieve their goals.
Carmen B. Landry, Au.D., has been part of the Cook Children's family since 2007. Her specialty is diagnostic evaluation in the ENT clinic, hearing evaluations under anesthesia and part-time juggler/performer. She enjoys working at Cook Children's because of the fun atmosphere, friendly staff and adorable patients. When she isn't working, you can find her crafting and enjoying time with her husband and three children.
Emily Harris, Au.D., CCC-AEmily Harris, Au.D., CCC-A is a Pediatric Audiologist and has worked at Cook Children's since 2019. Dr. Harris earned her Bachelor of the Arts degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders from LSU and her Doctorate of Audiology from University of Tennessee. As a board-certified Doctor of Audiology she is vested in providing patient and family-centered care to help children with hearing loss thrive in their world. Dr. Harris holds her Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology from the American Speech Language and Hearing Association. She enjoys working with her colleagues in a positive and welcoming atmosphere at Cook Children's.
Jennifer McCliment, Au.D., has worked at Cook Children's since 2001. She is an ASHA-certified audiologist and is a member of the Texas Academy of Audiology. Her areas of interest are pediatric diagnostic evaluations and amplification. She has had years of experience caring for patients at many of the Cook Children's inpatient and outpatient rehab settings. Dr. McCliment enjoys seeing many of her patients grow up and thrive over the years.
Josh Spann, Au.D., joined the Cook Children's Audiology team in 2016. A native of Arkansas, Dr. Spann worked in the aviation industry before pursuing a career in audiology. His motivation stemmed from his own experiences with hearing loss that began as a child.
Dr. Spann's professional interests include cochlear implants, interdisciplinary care, precepting future audiologists and process improvement. Outside of work, he enjoys spending time with his family in Arkansas and his dog, Tessa, fishing, overlanding and riding motorcycles.
Kaitlyn M. Kennedy, Au.D., ABAC, has been an audiologist at Cook Children's since 2017. She graduated from Missouri State University and has been involved in leadership for national and state audiology organizations, currently serving as chair of the New Professionals Committee for the American Academy of Audiology. Dr. Kennedy is originally from Missouri and enjoys St. Louis sports, including Cardinals baseball and Blues hockey. She enjoys working with her patients and families, helping them on their hearing journeys.
Katherine Schaars, Au.D., is a pediatric audiologist and has worked at Cook Children's since 2013. Dr. Schaars is a member of the American Board of Audiology, a Fellow of the American Academy of Audiology and a Certificate Holder - Audiology Preceptor. She earned her B.S. in Communication Sciences and Disorders from the University of Oklahoma and her Doctorate in Audiology from the University of North Texas. Dr. Schaars takes special interest in diagnostic testing, vestibular evaluations and supervising graduate students. In her free time she enjoys baking and traveling.
Kelli Billups, Au.D., is an inpatient audiologist and has worked at Cook Children's since 2017. As a board-certified Doctor of Audiology she takes special interest in diagnostic testing, particularly electrophysiological testing for pediatric patients. Dr. Billups is a Certificate Holder - Audiology Preceptor and volunteers with many organizations in the DFW area. She loves many things about working at Cook Children's, specifically the patients and Warm Cookie Wednesday where hot cookies are served in the medical center's Camelot Court Food Court.
Kristi Reed, Au.D., is the audiology program clinical coordinator at Cook Children's and has been a part of the Cook Children's family since 2011. She earned her doctorate in Audiology at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. Dr. Reed is board certified in audiology and a Certificate Holder - Audiology Preceptor. She loves many things about working at Cook Children's including all of the sweet patients and their families, her amazing coworkers and the friendly, caring environment at Cook Children's.
Lisa Christensen is the audiology program manager at Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas. Dr. Christensen has devoted a large amount of her professional career to osseointegrated devices in children. Her research in this area has led to several peer reviewed publications and lectures around the world on this topic. Her other interests include pediatric diagnostics and amplification, and acquired hearing loss in children and adults.
Throughout her career, Dr. Christensen has served on numerous committees for the American Academy of Audiology and has been involved in several state academies. Dr. Christensen has also served as the President of the American Academy of Audiology.
Dr. Mandy Pendleton is a member of the American Academy of Audiology and American Speech, Language, Hearing Association. Dr. Pendleton has been an audiologist at Cook Children's since 2015 and works out of the South Rehabilitation Center. Dr. Pendleton earned her B.A. in Communications Disorders from Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri and her M.S. in Audiology and Au.D from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Knoxville, Tennessee. She enjoys many facets of audiology, but has special interest in cochlear implant, electrophysiology and supervising graduate students.
Mariana Castle, Au.D., is a pediatric audiologist and has worked at Cook Children’s since 2017. Dr. Castle received her doctorate from Lamar University and is a fellow of the American Academy of Audiology. Dr. Castle’s professional interest include vestibular testing and electrophysiology. Dr. Castle draws on her Hispanic heritage to bond with the families she serves. She enjoys working in such a fun atmosphere surrounded by the sweet patients and amazing colleagues. Outside of work, Dr. Castle enjoys spending time with her family, friends and two dogs. She enjoys hiking, traveling and drinking coffee at local coffee shops.
Dr. Mahoney joined the Cook Children's Audiology team in 2015. She earned her doctoral degree at Kent State University, and completed her fourth year externship at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. She is board certified by the American Board of Audiology, and is a fellow of the American Academy of Audiology. Dr. Mahoney takes special interest in working with children who have traditional hearing aids, bone conduction devices and cochlear implants. She believes that collaborating with families is important for helping each child reach desired communication outcomes. Outside of working in the clinic, she enjoys traveling, running and espresso.
Megan Mansfield, Au.D., is a pediatric audiologist who began working for Cook Children's in 2012. After moving to England in 2015, she was happy to be welcomed back to the Cook Children's family in 2018. Dr. Mansfield received her Bachelor of Science in Communicative Disorders and her Doctor of Audiology from Utah State University. During her doctorate program she was selected as a trainee in a unique pediatric speciality program requiring additional graduate coursework and clinical training in both pediatric audiology and auditory-verbal therapy. She loves learning and strives to support all children in their lifelong journey to do the same.
Megan Richards, Au.D., joined the Cook Children’s family as a pediatric audiologist in October 2019. She received a Bachelor of Science in speech language and hearing sciences from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center with a minor in American Sign Language and went on to receive a Doctorate in audiology from Pacific University Oregon. Dr. Richards currently holds a certificate of clinical competency in audiology through the American Speech and Hearing Association. The thing she loves most about working at Cook Children’s is being able to provide excellent care to her community and the surrounding areas.
Skyler Barnes, Au.D., is a pediatric audiologist and has worked at Cook Children's since 2018. Dr. Barnes received her Bachelor of Science in Speech Language Pathology/Audiology and Doctorate in Audiology from the University of North Texas. She takes special interest in diagnostic testing, hearing aids and assistive technology. Dr. Barnes began her career at Cook Children's as a student where she completed her fourth year externship. She loves the sweet families at Cook Children's and looks forward to serving their hearing health care needs.
Sophie Jakubowich, Au.D., CCC-A, is an inpatient audiologist and has worked at Cook Children's since 2018. Dr. Jakubowich graduated from the University of Texas at Dallas. As a board-certified Doctor of Audiology she takes special interest in diagnostic testing and helping in early identification of childhood hearing loss. She loves many things about working at Cook Children's, specifically the wonderful patients and their families.
Susanna Saxon, Au.D., is an inpatient audiologist and has worked at Cook Children's since 2018. Dr. Jakubowich graduated from the University of Texas at Dallas. As a board-certified Doctor of Audiology she takes special interest in diagnostic testing and helping in early identification of childhood hearing loss. She loves many things about working at Cook Children's, specifically the wonderful patients and their families.
Virginia “Ginny” Land Leach, is a pediatric audiologist at Cook Children’s Medical Center. She earned her doctorate in Audiology at the University of Texas at Dallas and is a Board Certified Audiologist. She strives to provide high-quality, evidence-based family-centered care for her patients and their families.
If my child wears hearing aids, will they learn to talk?
There are many things that determine if your child with hearing loss will learn to talk. First your child must wear their hearing aids or implant processor during all waking hours of each day. Second you must give your child continuous auditory input – talk to your child, describe what you're doing all day, and read to them every day. Other developmental delays can delay your child's speech development despite proper hearing aid use and good auditory input. Your child's audiologist can help you through this process. Cook also offers a parent support group for hearing loss where you can also learn from other families.
Is earwax normal?
Ear wax is normal. It protects and moisturizes your ears. It is completely normal to have a small amount of ear wax in your ears. If ear wax completely fills the ears, it can cause a slight hearing loss. Hearing will return to normal once the wax is removed.
How do I remove earwax?
It is best to let a licensed medical professional remove ear wax from your child's ears. Putting objects in your child's ears can permanently damage their ears and hearing.
How are you going to test my baby's/toddler's/child's hearing?
Cook Audiologists are experts in testing hearing in children. They will customize testing based on your child's developmental level.
How I prepare my child for an ABR?
Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) testing helps an audiologist get information about the hearing system when infants are too young to respond or previous testing has been unsuccessful for older children. ABR testing requires your child to sleep soundly throughout the test. The appointments for unsedated ABR testing are two hours long to make sure you have time to get your baby sound asleep and ensure good test results. It is important you bring your infant tired and ready for a nap. Feeding right before your appointment time or right when you arrive for your appointment is recommended to help get your baby comfortable and ready for sleep. Sedated ABR tests are completed only at the Main Medical Center location in Fort Worth, Texas. Because of anesthesia, your child will have eating and drinking restrictions for the test. A representative from the medical center will call you prior to your appointment with those specific details.
How do I schedule an appointment or follow-up appointment?
Call 682-885-3898 for new appointments or follow-up appointments.
How much does a hearing test cost?
The age and developmental status of your child will determine which procedures are likely to occur during your child's appointment. Once your appointment is booked, the scheduling professional can help you determine an estimated cost for your child's appointment.
How often does my child need to return for follow-up visits after hearing aids are fit?
Once your child is fit with hearing aids, your child will need an initial follow up appointment in 4 to 6 weeks. Depending on the age of your child, follow up appointments will be set at 3 month, 6 month, or yearly intervals.
When will I find out the test results?
Once testing is complete, the audiologist will go over the results with you and make recommendations before you leave the appointment. You will be given time to ask questions and give feedback about the results as well.
Will my insurance cover the procedure and/or hearing aids?
Each insurance company has different coverage for hearing aids. Once your child has been tested and your audiologists makes recommendations our insurance reimbursement specialist can help you determine what your insurance covers.
My amplification is broken, what do I do?
If your child's hearing aids or earmolds are broken, you may drop off the broken hearing aids at your audiologist's office or call 682-885-3898 to make an appointment with your audiologist.
My child needs new earmolds, what do I do?
Please call 682-885-3898 to make an appointment with your audiologist.
How do I let school know the results of today's recommendations?
The audiologist will provide information for your school when hearing aids or other devices are fit on your child. You can also fill out a Release of Information to have copies of your child's results sent to the child's school directly from Cook Medical Records at 682-885-1012.
Can I have a copy of today's test?
Your audiologist will provide a family friendly information sheet of the testing results at the end of the appointment. This information sheet gives the hearing results and recommendations for your child.
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Schedule an appointment
If your child has been recommended to us, you probably have lots of questions. We can help. If you would like to schedule an appointment, refer a patient or speak to our staff, please call our offices at 682-885-4063.