Today’s parents have an advantage over those of generations past – with modern technology and medical practices, most parents now know a great deal about the health of their newborn child before they even leave the hospital. Oto-acoustic emissions testing, for example, can detect hearing loss within the first few days of life. Some disorders, such as autism, however, take longer to show up and diagnose.
What is autism?
research continues to help explain and define this complex neurobehavioral
disorder, it is generally characterized by impaired social interaction and a
lack of, or delay in, the development of communication skills. Autism affects
each individual differently – because of this, it is now commonly referred to
as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This more accurately describes the variety
of ways in which the disorder presents itself.
Autism vs. hearing loss – which is it?
Children with ASD often exhibit impaired social behaviors, such as not making eye contact or preferring to be alone. They may also display signs of delayed language development. Since these symptoms are similar to what a hearing-impaired child would have, it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between the two disorders.
notice that your child is exhibiting unusual behaviors, an audiologist or ASD specialist can
help decipher whether they are caused by hearing loss, Autism Spectrum
Disorder, or even both. In general, however, children with ASD also present
with symptoms like these:
- Repetitive language or gestures
(i.e. rocking, spinning)
- Disinterest in social
- Repeated fixation on particular
objects or their minute details
- Lack of imaginative
Sound sensitivity and autism
many children with ASD have hearing that is within normal limits, they may
experience another phenomenon – hyperacusis. This is a hearing impairment characterized
by hyper-sensitivity to sounds within a certain frequency or volume. The first
step in treatment is determining which types of sound your child is overly
sensitive to. Then, possible treatment options can be explored. These include
adaptations such as finding a quiet place when needed, or wearing
contrast, other children are under-responsive to certain sounds. This can
easily be confused with hearing loss, so it’s important to have a thorough
hearing assessment completed by an audiologist. If hearing loss is determined
to be the root problem, your child’s hearing professional may recommend hearing aids, assistive listening
or a combination of auditory and speech training to improve communication.
Treating hearing impairments and autism
If any hearing impairment is experienced by
children with ASD, it’s important to treat it early and appropriately so that
it doesn’t further impair the child’s development or social interactions. A
solid team of medical professionals, working together with you and your child, can
help devise a treatment regimen that will produce the best possible outcome. Give us a call today – one of our
audiologists would be happy to be on your team!
Source: Hear Well-Live Well Blog