The Hearing Center

About our program
Our patients
Why should you choose us?
Common Types/Causes of Hearing Loss
Communication Disorders
Common Hearing Devices
Hearing and Communication Habilitation/Treatments

Our goal is to provide comprehensive hearing care for children throughout their hearing journey that enhances the richness of language and connection, both with their families and the world around them.

About our program

The Hearing Center at Dell Children’s is a comprehensive hearing program offering collaborative care using a multidisciplinary approach among otolaryngologists, audiologists, speech and auditory verbal therapists, and behavioral health with psychology and social work, for the diagnosis, treatment and management of people with hearing loss. Our team works closely with our patients, their families, and their hearing care providers from evaluation to rehabilitation to develop a plan that is right for each person. 

We offer the most comprehensive program in Central Texas for infants and children with hearing loss. We provide some surgical and audiology services for adults with hearing loss, although our center’s subspecialized focus is in pediatrics. Our approach includes ongoing collaboration with a broader community team as well, including hearing professionals from the community, area school districts, local early childhood intervention programs, and many other medical specialists who come together to help families and patients through the complicated process of diagnosing hearing loss and finding the care plan that will serve them the very best, while also connecting each patient & family with a supportive community.

At our center, we help connect you with other families who have children with hearing loss, so that you have someone to help guide you through the process from a parent perspective. We embrace all abilities and communication choices, and can also provide care to Spanish-speaking and ASL/sign language patients and families (and other languages via interpreter services).

The center’s team approach assures that each patient’s care is thorough, comprehensive and individualized to their needs, from initial evaluation to rehabilitation.

Our patients

Our center treats newborns and children who have hearing loss and who have been referred by a primary care provider, otolaryngologist or hearing care provider/audiologist.

If you suspect your newborn has hearing loss, take your child to see an audiologist for a more complete and thorough hearing test. It’s important to find out if your child has hearing loss as early as possible, so that your child learns to effectively communicate with you and get the appropriate care.

The first and only pediatric multidisciplinary hearing team in Central Texas.

Why should you choose us?

Our team at Dell Children’s is passionate about providing the very best care for your child and your family, and we were founded by existing pediatric hearing specialists in the community with a much larger goal of providing excellent best-practice evidence-based pediatric hearing care to all children in Central Texas.  As the team has grown, we have worked hard to address the quality of pediatric hearing care, from providing high complexity advanced hearing care services, to creating evidence-based clinical protocols to ensure excellent care and best outcomes, to spearheading community-wide efforts including public health programs like the first cytomegalovirus (CMV) screening program in Central Texas in order to improve diagnosis of often-missed causes of hearing loss.  By streamlining hearing care and promoting early intervention services, we are able to help families who might otherwise not know where to go for support.  Most infants have newborn hearing screening at birth through the Texas Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Program; however, in some cases, there is no documented follow up care for infants who failed their newborn hearing screening at birth. There are different reasons for this, including a limited understanding of the diagnostic hearing loss process, access to care challenges, and an incomplete understanding of the importance of language acquisition and communication. Our goal is to help all children in Central Texas and beyond access hearing care and to optimize their ability to communicate both within their family and the world around them, whether it be hearing augmentation and habilitation to access oral/spoken language, support to learn American Sign Language (ASL), or a combination of these modalities.  Our team is ready to assist our patients throughout their hearing loss journey, by providing better access to care, comprehensive care coordination, and the optimization of language and communication for each child and family.

Why are we so unique?

We provide a full spectrum of hearing care onsite that includes:

  • Collaborative, multidisciplinary care
  • Medical and audiological diagnostics and management
  • Hearing augmentation via hearing aids, bone-anchored hearing devices (BAHA), and cochlear implants
  • Rehabilitative hearing care including speech and auditory-verbal therapy
  • Behavioral health support with pediatric psychology and social work
  • Patient navigation and coordination of complex hearing care to include coordination of services, educational, individual and family counseling
  • Ability to care for Spanish-speaking and ASL/sign language patients/families in a culturally-sensitive manner  (Other languages are also supported through interpreter services)

Our team is dedicated to providing the best care possible for your child. We will also ensure that you, as the parent, leave every visit feeling confident in the care your child receives and the progress your child makes throughout their hearing journey.

Common Types/Causes of Hearing Loss

  • Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SNHL) – A type of hearing loss caused by damage to the sensory organ or the vestibulocochlear nerve. 90% of reported hearing loss is SNHL. It is usually permanent and can range from mild to profound hearing loss.
  • Conductive hearing loss – Occurs when there is a disorder with the outer or middle ear which interferes with the transmission of sound to the inner ear. It is more common in children than adults.
  • Mixed hearing loss – Occurs when both conductive hearing loss and sensorineural hearing loss are present. The sensorineural component is permanent, while the conductive component can either be permanent or temporary.
  • Auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder – Difficulty of the transmission of sound from the inner ear to the brain.

Communication Disorders

Hearing loss can lead to communication issues with difficulty developing speech and oral language, speech delay or articulation problems.  Our team’s highest goal for each patient is to prevent this loss of communication and connection and help a child develop strong language and communication.  A patient’s and family’s preferred communication modality (oral language, manual/sign language or both) is an important starting point to decide how our team can help you meet your goals to connect with your child.  

  • Speech disorder – A disorder which prevents the child from effectively communicating and being understood by a communicative partner.

Common Hearing Devices

  • Hearing aids – Customized devices worn on the ears that make sounds louder in order for your child to hear the sounds they are missing due to hearing loss.
  • Bone-anchored implants – Device worn on the head to give sound access for children with conductive hearing loss.  They work by sending sound through the bone directly to the cochlea (organ of hearing) by bypassing the areas causing the hearing loss.  (Some are placed surgically in certain conditions, usually in older children.)
  • Cochlear implants – Surgically implanted device that works with an external processor (worn on the ear) to directly stimulate the cochlea (organ of hearing) to provide access to sound. They are used for children and adults who do not get enough benefit from hearing aids.

Hearing and Communication Habilitation/Treatments

  • Speech and language therapy – Intervention that enhances the communicative potential of a patient through listening and spoken language or other means of communication. Caregiver involvement is crucial for best outcomes.
  • Auditory verbal therapy – Intervention designed to teach a child to use their hearing (provided by a hearing aid or a cochlear implant) for understanding speech, learning to talk, and learning to listen. Caregiver involvement is crucial for best outcomes.
  • Educational plan – A plan or program developed to ensure that a child who has a disability identified under the law and is attending an elementary or secondary educational institution receives specialized instruction and related services.
  • Audiology diagnostics – Testing that allows an audiologist to decide if a hearing loss is present, define the degree or severity of the loss, what part of the ear that is causing the hearing loss and is used as part of a battery of tests to determine best ways to treat the hearing loss.
  • Device programming – Programming a hearing device so that hearing levels are optimized and customized for each individual patient.
  • Coordination of complex care – Collaboration among various specialists to manage the care of a patient.
  • Counseling and family care – Counseling the entire family to empower primary caregivers to accomplish best outcomes for each patient in light of what is working best for the child.