Andi Seibold, Au.D., started Little Ears Audiology, PLLC in 2013 to make sure that infant hearing loss is detected early so that children can enjoy a rich, communicative childhood.
I practiced as a clinical pediatric audiologist for more than five years before deciding to change career paths in a way that would allow me to be more of a full-time, stay-at-home mom with my son.
My son was born in 2009 via C-section; it was not until 18 months later that I began to process his birth and my feelings on the outcomes from that medical procedure. I began researching vaginal birth after cesarean section (VBAC) and became very familiar with the midwifery model and out-of-hospital birth. By gradually becoming involved in natural birth community events, I began to pay more attention to how and where infants were receiving post-natal services, of particular interest to me, the newborn hearing screen.
I tested a handful of infants born at home during my medical career and began to wonder where these families were receiving their newborn hearing screens, which are mandated in all 50 states. After a rudimentary electronic survey to midwives and doulas in the area, I became quickly aware that most families were foregoing the screening altogether. It was clear to me that while education was needed in this area, a convenient solution to make the screening accessible and easy to obtain was needed more. There was no reason the screening could not be performed in the home or birth center in which the infants were born.
And then my husband challenged me to turn my idea into a business venture.
I am thankful for his prompting and support, and the acceptance of my business within the natural-birth community in this area. Little Ears Audiology was born in the summer of 2013, and I have been able to take the valuable hearing screening to more than 100 babies since its inception.
Why Little Ears?
I chose to start this business because families who choose to birth out of the hospital should have the same ease-of-access to a newborn hearing screening that is provided in most major hospitals. I’m a mom whose past experiences have shaped my feelings profoundly on birth and evidence-based maternal care, but I’m also a passionate audiologist who wants to make sure that every infant hearing loss is detected early to provide children with a rich, communicative childhood.
I provide in-home newborn hearing screenings via auditory brainstem technology. Three sensors are used to measure brain responses to soft clicking sounds. This is the gold standard for infant hearing testing. You don’t have to pack up kids or even get out of your pajamas to have the screening performed. Scheduling is fast, and the cost is much less expensive than what many hospitals charge; with home screening you can save $100 or more.
Even if you had a baby in a hospital, you can still hire me to perform your baby’s screening. A simple waiver can be obtained at your birth hospital, and I can be scheduled easily to come to your home.
Through the generosity of local midwives, I am able to provide the screenings at select birth centers in the Fort Worth community for a flat fee about once a month. This option is a great compromise for those who cannot afford a screening outside my standard service area.
- Providing hearing screenings for older infants or toddlers who did not receive the screening at birth.
- Testing hearing for preschoolers and school-age children using headphones and child-friendly games to engage each individual based on age and personality. I am able to provide a simple screening or a threshold test, which is the softest sound a person can hear. Furthermore, I test adults of any age.
- Making custom ear protection (shooter’s plugs/hearing protection) and swim plugs for children and adults.
- Partnership with friend and fellow “mom-preneur,” Maryn Taylor of Buoyant Birth, to offer packaged hearing screenings for home-birth moms. Families who rent a birth pool from Buoyant Birth can arrange a hearing screening at pool pick up in certain locations for a discounted rate. She drops off the pool, you have your baby, and I pick up the pool and do your baby’s hearing screen. How’s that for service at home?
As a licensed audiologist, not a technician, I can provide counseling and recommendations/referrals after any test and have relationships with many rehabilitation professionals in the area.
Every Little Ear Deserves to Hear
I hope that Little Ears Audiology raises awareness about the importance of early identification of hearing loss in babies and children. Hearing loss is one of the most common disorders present at birth, affecting between three and six babies per 1,000 born. It is 20 times more common than PKU and other disorders tested for in the heel-prick blood test. It should not be overlooked or undervalued.
Because I am a mom and feel so passionately about what miracle has just occurred, I take pride in a compassionate, understanding, and thorough approach. I would hope that EVERY family I am privileged to see in Fort Worth will feel empowered, educated, and loved after having their baby’s hearing screened. It’s more than a hearing test; there is a level of compassionate competence that comes with every screening.
I am a member of the Tarrant County Birth Network and volunteer with a group of wonderful ladies as opportunities arise.
As a mom who has experienced a traumatic loss and secondary infertility, I am sensitive to the emotions and long journey of those who make incredible sacrifices to bring life into the world. Although it’s a small service, I am happy to have offered what I do at no-cost to families in this community who have been able to have their miracle baby through the means of in-vitro fertilization. The costs associated with assisted reproduction are steep, and it has given me joy to help relieve just one more small expense in bringing a healthy baby into the world.
Little Ears Audiology offers a 50% sibling (or parent) discount when more than one family member in the home is tested. Also, JUST for Fort Worth Moms Blog readers: Get a free parent hearing test with the purchase of a newborn or child hearing screening when you mention FWMB. This discount is good for screenings purchased November 21 through December 24.
Andi has been a wife for 10 years, pediatric audiologist for six years, mom for five years, and proud Fort Worth Texan for 29 years. While she is not conquering the world one hearing test at a time, Andi also works as a technical copyeditor for the leading audiology continuing education website, AudiologyOnline. In her spare time, she homeschools her kindergartner, teaches at her church, and sings as occasion permits, even if that is in the shower or car! Andi attended Brigham Young University as an undergraduate and then graduated first in her class from the University of North Texas with a doctorate in audiology (AuD) in 2008. Follow Little Ears Audiology on Facebook.