The symptoms of autism and hearing loss often overlap in children, which can make it difficult to make an appropriate diagnosis. In fact, many children with autism are misdiagnosed as being deaf, and as many as one in 59 children with hearing loss also has autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Below we review the signs of autism and hearing loss and how each is diagnosed.
Overlapping Signs of Autism & Hearing Loss
Autism is a broad spectrum, and each child with ASD will exhibit different signs. That said, it’s fairly common for children with autism to exhibit similar behaviors as children with hearing loss, especially in interactions with peers at Santa Fe Railyard Park. Some signs of autism that mimic those of hearing loss include:
- Lack of normal eye contact. Many children with ASD avoid eye contact. Those with hearing loss may not make eye contact if they don’t hear that you’re talking to them.
- Children with ASD may repeat words as a behavioral pattern, while children with hearing loss may repeat words in order to try and understand them.
- Delayed language. It’s common for both children with autism and those with hearing loss to have a hard time with language development and fall behind their peers.
- Delayed social skills. Children with autism may have a range of social difficulties, and children with hearing loss may have trouble communicating.
- Social isolation. It’s common for both children on the autism spectrum and those with hearing loss to feel socially isolated.
Diagnosing Autism & Hearing Loss
If your child is born with hearing loss, there’s a good chance the condition will be caught early thanks to the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI). These guidelines were created to make sure all children get the help they need. This program ensures:
- All babies are screened for hearing loss no later than one month of age.
- If a baby does not pass the screening, they must get a diagnostic hearing test no later than three months of age.
- Children diagnosed with hearing loss must receive intervention services no later than six months of age.
If your child begins exhibiting symptoms of hearing loss later in life, they may be screened at school or taken to an audiologist, who can provide a comprehensive hearing test to diagnose any hearing loss that is present.
Diagnosing autism isn’t so straightforward, as there are no definitive tests that can confirm a diagnosis. Some tests used include the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule and the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R). These tests can be adapted using sign language or other visual tools if the child also has hearing loss.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Southwestern Hearing & Balance today.