The Early Diagnostic Centre (EDC) functioning on the premises of the District Differently Abled Welfare Office since more than a month, has been detecting and treating hearing loss in children, as early as the day of birth.

The centre has an audiologist to diagnose patients. It has several facilities, including BERA (Brainstem Evoked Response Audiometry) equipment, a soundproof room for audiometric testing, and OAE (otoacoustic emission) tests. After the diagnosis, the children are given speech therapy and parents are counselled on the steps to be taken. According to P. Sellam, audiologist, patients from Nagur, Velankanni, Tiruvarur, Kumbakonam, Thanjavur, Karur, Pudukkottai, Pattukkottai, and all talukas of Tiruchi visit the centre. Currently, there are a few such centres in places such as Chennai, Tuticorin, Coimbatore, and Tiruchi, he says.

G. Praveena, director, Dolphin Special School and Centre, says one of her students, S. Hamsini, was referred to the centre for suspected hearing loss. “The tests conducted at the centre helped in dispelling fear that the autistic girl was suffering from hearing loss,” she says.

Shanti. R, who hails from Pattukkottai, was happy with the facilities provided when her newborn son was referred to the centre. “I didn’t expect that the centre set up by the government would be of such high standard. The audiologist was very patient as he explained the procedure to us and conducted the test,” she says. Mr. Sellam says the awareness about the presence of such a centre is growing gradually as the centre is witnessing more patients over time. Moreover, Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Government Hospital has only one audiologist who is available for consultation twice a week.