Today, newborns are given a hearing screening before they leave the hospital. If a child is deaf or diagnosed with hearing loss, parents can be guided by hospital staff and healthcare professionals to get the proper means of communication and resources for treatment.
In some cases, being diagnosed with hearing loss is a precursor to autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The Gallaudet Research Institute has estimated that 40 percent of children who have hearing loss also have an additional disability. The pervasiveness of ASD among children who are deaf or hard of hearing is 1 in 59.
What is autism?
ASD is defined as an intricate developmental disorder that becomes present during early childhood and influences a child’s ability to communicate. Children who have ASD do not grow out of this disorder, but similar to hearing loss, getting an early diagnosis can lead to early intervention. This will greatly improve a child’s quality of life.
Ways to determine whether your child has more than hearing loss
Here are some signs to look for:
Autism and its association with hearing loss
Autism impacts children differently, so it’s crucial to recognize how this disorder affects their capacity to hear and comprehend sounds. In some instances, a child may not have any hearing loss. In other cases, a child might have mild, moderate, or profound hearing loss that could be treated with hearing aids.
For most children, the nerves that transfer sound to the brain may not function properly. This is known as auditory processing disorder (APD). This makes it difficult for the child to comprehend what others are saying to them. Children with autism might have issues with other sensory experiences. This is known as multi-sensory processing disorder.
Autism and auditory processing disorders
Autism can affect how a child processes sound. As a result, a child with autism might struggle with learning language. Some things that may help them manage these issues include:
Autistic children could be sensitive to some sounds (hyperacusis), due to difficulties processing those sounds, but continue to have hearing loss in other sound ranges. For example, high-pitched noises can irritate a child, but that child isn’t able to hear low-pitched sounds clearly. This can make it difficult to determine whether the problem is caused by hearing loss, or not.
Find out which sounds irritate your child. Some kids can wear noise-cancelling earmuffs or can find a quiet area that they can go to. In other instances, some children are under-reactive. They do not appropriately respond to sounds in their environment.
Misdiagnosing hearing loss as autism
There have been some cases where a child’s hearing loss is undiagnosed and a problem with communication emerges. This child is typically suspected to have autism. Here’s a resource that can help you distinguish the differences.
Each child is affected by autism differently. There is still so much more research needed to understand this disorder. If you suspect that your child is experiencing hearing loss, please contact us at Pure Sound Hearing Aids. We offer a free hearing test and consultation to discuss the best options for you and your child.
Please be aware that Pure Sound services will only be available by appointment and for essential visits at this time. Essential visits include all appointments that require new hearing aid fittings, repairs and re-fittings. If you need a hearing aid repair, we ask that you please wait in your car, while wearing your mask, and place your hearing aids in a clean zip lock bag. We will come to your car to get them. If you are having any issues with your hearing aids, or need supplies for your hearing aids, please call us before visiting one of our offices.