What has been missing in the hearing health-care system is a low-cost, easily administered, reliable test of hearing that can be widely applied to children around school entry so that no child has to go through years of school at a disadvantage to others because of unmanaged hearing loss.
Clinicians can register for access to the Sound Scouts Clinical Portal. The Clinical Portal provides details of each patient’s test results. Clinicians can view the three components of the test - speech-in-quiet, speech-in-noise and tone-in-noise - along with other key test information. Contact the Sound Scouts team to register!
Sound Scouts at your health centre
Sound Scouts Chief Scientist Professor Harvey Dillon explains how the game works:
“The Sound Scouts hearing game looks and feels like a game when it is played by a five-year old (or older) child on a tablet. However, it incorporates several advanced scientific principles that enable it to detect a range of hearing problems. These problems include conductive hearing loss arising from infections or other disorders in the middle ear, sensorineural hearing loss, auditory neuropathy and central auditory processing disorder (of which there are several varieties).
The game comprises three interleaved tests of hearing; two based on perceiving speech - one in noise and one in quiet - and one based on perceiving tones against a noise background. Each of these constantly adapts so that the child is always listening at the edge of his or hearing capability. Algorithms within the game check that the child is responding reliably, as well as measuring the child’s actual ability. The results from the three tests are combined to automatically display a test result as soon as the game is completed.”
Applications of Sound Scouts
Although the principal use of Sound Scouts is to detect previously undiagnosed hearing problems in school aged children, the test has other potential applications.
Following detection of significant conductive loss, there is a need to determine whether treatment (antibiotics or ear ventilation tubes) or watchful waiting have resulted in correction of the hearing loss. This is usually achieved by an audiologist assessing hearing by tympanometry or hearing thresholds, or by a medical practitioner otoscopically examining the eardrums. Both of these involve significant expense to the health system and/or to parents. Sound Scouts provides a more convenient method by which hearing status after treatment can be monitored.
Auditory processing disorder
It is known that protracted otitis media in early childhood strongly pre-disposes children to acquire spatial processing disorder (Cameron et al., 2014; Tomlin & Rance, 2014). Sound Scouts has been specifically designed to be sensitive to this condition, so its use after treatment for otitis media will likely also detect those children for whom otitis media has resulted in spatial processing disorder, for which separate remediation is needed, is already available, and is highly effective (Cameron et al., 2012). The test can be used for this purpose for any children over 5 years of age, which is considerably lower than is achievable by any other tests of auditory processing ability.
Use by hearing professionals
Test of auditory processing disorder
There are no existing tests for auditory processing disorder (APD) that are usable for children below 6 years of age, and all but one test requires the child to be at least 7 years of age. Some clinicians will not test children below 8 years of age. Sound Scouts has been designed to be usable down to 4 years, and normative data exists down to 4.2 years. Consequently, Sound Scouts potentially provides a means for professionals to detect APDs in an age range for which no other test exists. Further research is required to evaluate the sensitivity of Sound Scouts for this purpose. However, the realistic nature of the Sound Scouts speech-in-noise task makes it very likely that any abnormalities Sound Scouts detects have functional significance for the child, and so can be compared against child-, parent- and teacher-report measures.
Sound Scouts identified a hearing issue in my son, which we followed up on with Australian Hearing. He was recommended a hearing aid system which he wore to school for the first time today. I have a different boy tonight. After school he is usually cranky and on edge and needs to be alone. Today he was relaxed, happy and joking around. He said he could hear the instructions in music class for the first time ever.
As many of our students are remote, we have a continual struggle with waiting times and access to services. Sometimes it can take months to get a referral to an audiologist not to mention the lost work time and travel costs; It is fantastic to have access to something like Sound Scouts that is evidence-based and doesn't require teachers to travel long distances.
I am going back into the classroom next year and I will certainly be spreading the word about Sound Scouts at my school. So many times throughout my teaching career I have questioned a child's hearing and this app will allow us to provide parents with data to encourage them to seek further advice..
Provide accessible screening
- Sound Scouts enables you to screen every child for hearing loss accessibly, securely, and reliably, only escalating to a full audiological exam when required. It is delivered as an engaging game that incorporates advanced hearing science. Each test provides a report and guidance on next steps.
Improve the referral process
- Sound Scouts gives health services the potential to move children along referral pathways faster. Health workers can become proficient in administering the game, explaining results, connecting to treatment and arranging referrals.
Test securely at your clinic
- Test children for the three main types of hearing issues: sensorineural hearing loss, conductive hearing loss and indications of auditory processing disorder. Results are delivered securely and reliably. Health care professionals can view results via the Sound Scouts Clinical Portal.
A trusted solution
- Sound Scouts has been developed in collaboration with the National Acoustic Laboratories, a world leader in hearing assessment and rehabilitation. It is recommended and accepted as a referral by Australian Hearing and supported by NSW Health.
Sound Scouts HQ
Tel:+61 2 9460 6768
Crows Nest NSW 2065