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Hearing and Speech Center

Contact number | 202-476-5600

At Children’s National Hospital, our pediatric hearing and speech specialists diagnose, treat and care for children with audiology (hearing) and communication disorders.

We understand the impact that hearing and speech conditions have on a child’s day-to-day life. From preschool to playgrounds, simple things like hearing mom’s voice, understanding the teacher or asking for a snack can become a source of frustration. Our ongoing support and resources include sensitive assistance with the social, educational and emotional challenges that can accompany these types of disorders.

Choosing the Children's National Hearing and Speech Center

Our team offers comprehensive speech and hearing care – from screening infants’ hearing to evaluating a child’s voice quality to developing customized treatments and training. Our doctors are researchers, teachers and leaders in hearing, speech and language specialties. They offer complete care, from early screenings and intervention to sophisticated medical and surgical solutions to complex problems. They work with other experts to study related conditions that can affect your child’s ability to hear and communicate well.

We also pay close attention to the emotional frustrations of children struggling with lost or diminished abilities. We’ll help your child learn, heal and grow while adjusting to challenges, such as new treatments or assistive devices. 

Conditions We Treat

We treat a full range of hearing, speech and language conditions. Our specialists also support and collaborate with other Children’s National pediatric teams who treat diverse conditions – such as infectious diseasecancer and neurofibromatosis – that can affect hearing and speech.

Some of the top conditions we treat include:

  • Hearing and speech issues related to airway and breathing disorders
  • Hearing and speech issues related to asthma
  • Cleft lip and cleft palate 
  • Craniofacial disorders
  • Deafness
  • Deviated septum (off-center nasal cavity cartilage) 
  • Ear infections
  • Hearing loss
  • Lung disorders
  • Neck masses (benign or cancerous)
  • Sinus conditions
  • Speech-language disorders
  • Swimmer’s ear (otitis externa)
  • Vocal cord disorders

Services We Provide

Our specialists provide a comprehensive evaluation of your child’s hearing, speech and language. We will check to see whether he or she is within certain age-related developmental guidelines. Every child is unique, and your child’s doctor will discuss whether further steps are needed. He or she will create a care plan specific to your child’s needs.

Our team will provide comforting guidance and support along the way. In some instances, your doctor may recommend hearing aids, medical procedures or specialized training. We’ll do all we can to help your child hear and communicate better.

Screening and Evaluation

Children’s National specialists perform hearing tests for newborns, infants and children. If your child doesn’t respond to sounds or struggles with language skills, don’t hesitate to ask us for help.

A hearing evaluation can provide reassurance that your child is developing normally, or help identify any potential problems. Whatever your child’s condition, our individualized attention and innovative treatment options can help make your child’s life a little easier.

Ask your doctor if you notice these or other symptoms of a potential hearing or speech disorder:

  • Your infant does not move or jump in response to a loud sound
  • Your infant does not babble or make sounds by the age of 9 months
  • Your child does not respond to sounds
  • Your child has a poor voice quality
  • Your child does not say any words by age 2
  • Your child does not follow simple commands by age 2
  • Your child’s stuttering continues past the age of 5

Our team will assess your child based on general guidelines established by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) and other experts. However, it is important to remember that not every child is the same. Children reach milestones at different ages.

Children’s National services include expert assessment for a full range of hearing, speech and language conditions including:

  • Hearing milestones
  • Speech and language milestones 
  • Feeding difficulties
  • Swallowing disorders

We’ll provide compassionate support for children and families as they adjust to and manage the challenges of hearing loss. This includes education and assistance with using hearing aids, cochlear implants and other devices.

Hearing Loss Treatment and Management

Your child's doctor will determine specific treatment for hearing loss based on:

  • Your child's age, overall health and medical history
  • Extent of the condition
  • Your child's tolerance for specific medications, procedures or therapies
  • Expectations for the course of the condition
  • Your opinion or preference 

Certain disorders involve closely connected functions, such as breathing, swallowing and digestion. When needed, we involve subspecialists who work in concert to perform intricate therapies such as aerodigestive procedures involving the airway (lungs), digestive tract and feeding. Our specialists can also perform procedures such as minimally invasive sinus surgery at the same time as another operation, such as septoplasty (nasal passage correction), tonsillectomy, adenoidectomy or insertion of ear tubes.  

Management of hearing loss may include one or more of the following:

  • Hearing aids. We’ll evaluate your child for hearing aids if needed. These can be especially helpful for sensorineural hearing loss (hearing loss in the inner ear due to damaged hair cells or a damaged hearing nerve). This can be caused by noise, injury, infection, certain medications, birth defects, tumors or problems with blood circulation.
  • Cochlear implants. These surgically placed devices transmit electrical stimulation to the inner ear. Only certain children are candidates for cochlear implants. Ask your child's doctor for more information.
  • Sign language and lip-reading training. We can help a child experiencing hearing loss, as well as families and others who want to learn how to communicate better with a deaf or hearing-impaired child. 

Multidisciplinary Team

At Children’s National, we work as a team to treat a wide range of conditions, including deafness or varying degrees of hearing loss. Our care team includes these and many other specialists:

  • Audiologists
  • Hearing technicians
  • Neurophysiologists
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Otolaryngologists/ear, nose, and throat (ENT)
  • Pediatric nurse practitioners
  • Physician assistants
  • Psychologists
  • Speech-language pathologists (speech and feeding)

Contact Us

For more information, call us at 202-476-5600.

Molly's Story

Hearing Loss

Mollys Story

3-year-old Molly is obsessed with the movie “Frozen.” And like the fearless princess in Disney’s icy animated epic, there’s something very special about Molly. She was born deaf.

Molly's Story

Hearing and Speech Team