Hard of Hearing, Autistic, or Both? - Hearing and Speech Agency

Hard of Hearing, Autistic, or Both?

The co-morbidity of autism and hearing loss is not uncommon: according to the Gallaudet Research Institute, one in 59 children who are hard-of-hearing also receive services for an Autism Spectrum Disorder. With the mandated newborn hearing screening, it can be easy to catch if a child is born deaf or hard-of-hearing, but if a child has received a primary diagnosis of autism, it is more difficult to identify if they begin to lose their hearing.

According to the Autism Society, “Sometimes, hearing and visual problems are missed because of diagnostic overshadowing, that is, behaviors resulting from hearing and visual problems may be considered part of the symptoms of autism, such as lack of attention, speech problems, lack of eye contact or shading of the eyes, and clumsiness.” Diagnostic overshadowing can be common with intellectual or developmental disabilities, as it is something clinically difficult to differentiate symptoms. One of the most important things is for parents and caregivers to be attentive to whether or not behaviors are linked to autism or if the child is hard of hearing. The child:

  • May use his or her eyes to watch people without making eye contact
  • May try to communicate with gestures or pointing before learning sign language
  • May take a person’s hand to indicate a need
  • May communicate through facial expressions, signs, or other devices
  • May exhibit hyposensitivitiy, or unresponsiveness to sounds

If you think your child with autism may also be hard-of-hearing, it is important to speak with your pediatrician. Since HASA’s focus is primarily on communication, and we have a school for children with special communication needs including autism, our audiologists are experienced and well-equipped in this area. If you have questions, please email our Hearing & Speech Language Services, or call (410) 318-6780.

Hearing and Speech AgencyHarry and Jeanette Weinberg Building 5900 Metro Drive Baltimore, MD 21215 410.318.6780