The Role of the Educational Audiologist
Great question! How much time do you have? As you are aware, an audiologist evaluates auditory function, helps clients and other interested individuals understand the impact of disordered auditory function on the listeners life, manages that adverse impact through a variety of means, and plays a key role in the prevention of auditory disorders and the conservation of healthy hearing. An educational audiologist does all that for school-age listeners, typically between the ages of 3-21 years. Sounds simple enough. But whats it really all about?
Its about understanding not only how children develop but also the important role audition plays in a childs communicative ability, academic success, and psychosocial well-being. Its about learning the ins and outs of all types of auditory evaluation behavioral and electrophysiological- at all levels of the system outer ear to cortex and then learning how to modify and adjust those techniques and your interpretation for a population of listeners that:
is still growing and changing, both physically and neurologically
often cant raise their hand when they hear the tone or say the word, and/or
- may present with co-morbid physical, behavioral, and/or neurocognitive disorders OR just display similar behaviors to other disorders.
Its about communicating your test findings, interpretation, and recommendations to parents and other caregivers, classroom teachers, school administrators, other special education staff, AND the child him/herself in a manner that educates all the others and empowers the child. Its about recommending and helping to implement effective and cost-efficient aural (re)habilitation programs for listeners with anything from a peripheral hearing impairment (any degree or manner) to an auditory processing disorder. And THAT may involve helping colleagues in speech-language and LD write Individualized Education Plan (IEP) goals, conducting therapy yourself, consulting with classroom teachers, assessing amplification and assistive listening technology use, or talking to parent-teacher groups. Its about understanding the grief process, classroom acoustics, the IDEA, your state and local school board regulations, phonological awareness, and the changing needs of students as they weather the storms of adolescence. Its about developing a network beyond your test booth of resources for everything from amplification options to other practitioners in your area. Its about being a member of a team whose mission is to enable every child to reach their full potential. And when even one comes back from college and tells you that, thanks to you, theyre doing just fine its about the greatest job youd ever want to have.