For speech discrimination testing in adults, audiologists often choose either the W-22 or NU-6. If they want to shorten the testing time, they will use a list that is ordered by difficulty or a short interval recording. However, the choice between word recognition tests becomes more complicated when it comes to children because there are several to choose from. I am often asked: Which test is best? There is not one clear answer because the best test depends on the age range of your patients.
If your patients’ age range is 12 and older, you can confidently administer the adult word lists such as the W-22 Form A or NU-6 Form A. Depending on the vocabulary of the child, you may choose to administer these lists to kids a little younger than 12. The administrator must start the recording, then the patient simply repeats the word he or she hears on the recording.
The PBK-50 Form A word list was designed for lower grade school age children. The PBK is similar to the W-22 or NU-6 word list except the vocabulary is more appropriate for this younger age group. Again, the patient simply repeats the word as he or she hears on the recording.
The Word Intelligibility by Picture Identification (WIPI) fits a lower age range of 5 to 8 year olds. This test makes use of a picture book (sample at left). The child listens to the recording, then points to the pictured representation of the word as he or she hears it. There are six choices on each page. Aside from being easier for younger children, it is also beneficial for the test administrator to see the selection by using picture-pointing since the child’s spoken response may be difficult to understand.
The Northwestern University-Children’s Perception of Speech (NU-CHIPS) test reaches an even younger age range. Ages 2-5 can be tested by administering this picture-pointing test. As you can see from the pictures at right, there are less choices for the younger child to select from as they listen to the recording.
The test an audiologist administers to a child should be appropriate for his or her age group (or language age). If the test is too easy or too hard, the test results may not show his or her true ability to discriminate speech. Therefore, it may be necessary to purchase one or more tests for your patients depending on the patient age range. You have been entrusted to evaluate the hearing of these amazing kids so it is up to you to utilize the best and most appropriate tests available.