Thursday, August 14, 2008

New Hearing Screening Recommendation? Food For Thought.....

Recently I have learned of two local children who at around 2-3 years of age were diagnosed with Autism. They demonstrated a lack of interest in what was going on around them, they would hit and lash out when frustrated, and had a lack of social skills. Thanks to the persistance of one of the moms they had the child's hearing checked, and they actually had a moderate to severe hearing loss. Once the child received hearing aids, the behavior immediately changed. This smart mom had a friend whose child received the same diagnosis, and she immediately asked if the child's hearing had been tested- No. Same exact situation.

I guess this caught my attention because when Delaney was just shy of 3, we were struggling to figure out why she was *so* speech delayed. She was diagnosed with developmental delay/speech delay due to unknown cause. I pushed the issue and asked for a hearing screen- Moderate to profound hearing loss. Much easier to treat when you know the underlying cause. I wonder how many older children w/ progressive hearing loss are *not* being caught by the newborn screening process, and if we need to routinely re-test children who are being diagnosed with general speech delay, autism, etc. We lost 9 months with Delaney due to incorrect diagnosis (or let's call it incomplete diagnosis- they were correct in that she suffered from a severe speech delay, but there was a cause that needed to be addressed.

I don't want to point the finger at Pediatricians because I don't believe they are expected to be experts on hearing loss. But, rather than grasp at the first diagnosis that fits, maybe a simple OAE screening test could be recommended to rule out hearing as a cause, and then move forward to whatever specialist is recommended. Any thoughts?

1 comment:

leahlefler said...

Hearing can definitely be overlooked as a cause for language/social delay! I saw a chart comparing the signs of autism/hearing loss/ADHD once- I'll have to find the link once. The symptoms were strikingly similar!

Progressive losses can definitely get missed. Nolan was lucky he was caught- he used to hit normal in the high frequencies that they screen. Now he doesn't, but if he had been missed at the newborn stage we wouldn't have "found" him until much later. Thank goodness that Algo screener was set a little more sensitive than the official claim!