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Educational Audiologist

At the Academy we have a full time Educational Audiologist, Helen Maiden-Picarella. Helen has worked with Deaf children for nearly 20 years and specialised as an Educational Audiologist for nearly 10.
She initially trained as a mainstream secondary teacher and is a qualified Teacher of the Deaf with an MSc in Educational Audiology and Certificate Diploma in Speech Language and Communication Needs. She has BSL Level 2.

Helen is involved with the BATOD Pre-school Special Interest Group as member of the committee, she is also chair of British Association of Educational Audiologist (BAEA) and is chair of the more local, South Educational Audiology Group (SEAG) a branch of BAEA.

Educational Audiologist Support

Helen works closely with students in School checking and monitoring their hearing aids and cochlear implant processors, conducting listening and test box checks. Primary and Secondary students are introduced to sounds and are supported to examine how these relate to the environment. Overtime, they will gain an understanding of which sounds they can access and become familiar with their own audiogram. This is important for students as it gives them an understanding of their hearing levels, how their hearing loss affects them and helps explain their level of deafness to those that can support them in future.

For children with hearing aid and/or cochlear implants, early and consistent regular use is important if your child is to use their hearing now or later in life – even if this is for sound awareness rather than being of use for acquiring speech.

As the Educational Audiologist, Helen also conducts trials and assessments of suitability for an assistive listening device (ALD) in class. If your child can access speech, it may be best to give them access to information through an ALD, supported by BSL. In some cases, students can understand the information better if they have access to both.

During your child’s time at the Academy, Helen will frequently observe and conduct at least annual monitoring of their hearing levels (pure tone audiogram), their hearing devices and assess their access to listening provision etc. If there is any change or deterioration in hearing levels, this is dealt with promptly in liaison with your child’s local audiology provision. If they are registered with the Academy GP, they can be referred to the Audiology Unit at Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital to save travelling further afield for support.

Working closely with Speech and Language Therapists, Educational Audiology ensure students have the best access to sounds to support their speech and lip-reading development. Helen also supports staff across the Academy, providing training and updates on the latest amplification equipment and raising awareness of individual students’ hearing potential and how this can be best supported in the classroom.