Is Your Child’s Hearing Diagnosis a Precursor to Another Condition?

Hearing Loss or Autism

When a child is discovered to have a hearing impairment, it can be unsettling. But in many cases, healthcare professionals can guide the parents towards the appropriate resources and assistance. However, there are cases where a hearing diagnosis turns out to be a precursor to another condition, the autism spectrum disorder (ASD). According to the Gallaudet Research Institute, up to 40 percent of children who demonstrate hearing loss also exhibit an additional disability. It was also estimated that 1 in 59 children who are deaf or hearing impaired are on the spectrum. This statistic can lead a person to wonder if their child’s impairment is related to hearing loss or autism, or even both conditions.

When a child demonstrates autistic behaviors, it sometimes can be challenging to tell if it’s hearing loss or autism or if the child is dealing with both conditions. Not everyone on the autism spectrum undergoes the same symptoms, and there can be an overlap between the symptoms of hearing loss and autism. To help you make the distinction, here is a list of characteristics that you can look out for to help you determine if it’s hearing loss or autism.

Hearing Loss NOT That’s Not Autism Related Signs and Symptoms:

• Likes to be touched and enjoys giving hugs.
• Comfortable making eye contact.
• Uses their eyes to watch other people.
• The ability to take another person’s point of view.
• Lack of communication makes them feel socially isolated.
• Communicates with pointing and uses other hand gestures.
• Comfortable with language and asks questions.
• Can handle change.
• Can handle multiple sensory inputs at once.

Hearing Loss that May Be Related to Autism Signs and Symptoms:

• Does not like to be touched.
• Prefers to be alone and often seems “aloof.”
• Little to no eye contact.
• Has difficulty handling and understanding another’s person’s viewpoints.
• Communication can cause agitation.
• Lack of facial expressions.
• The inability to process or understand language.
• Dislikes change and has problems accepting change.
• Avoid particular tastes, textures, sights, sounds, and lights.
• Not able to handle multiple sources of sound.
• Displays high anxiety symptoms.
• Performs self-injurious acts, such as head-banging when anxious or upset.
• Displays repetitive hand gestures and odd postures.

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