For decades now, the rate of children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – commonly known as ADHD – has been on the rise. According to the Centers for Disease Control, almost 8% of kids in the United States received that diagnosis back in 2003. Less than a decade later that number rose to more than 11% in 2011, and it has continued to grow ever since.
Although this disorder is certainly widespread, ADHD isn't truly a medical condition in and of itself. Instead, ADHD is defined by a wide range of symptoms which impact a child's ability to stay focused on tasks and activities. In general, children with ADHD tend to be less responsive when spoken to, act out, have difficulty in social situations and do worse academically.
It shouldn't come as a surprise that these are the exact same symptoms that you see in children that suffer from hearing loss. And hearing loss experts are warning that some children may be misdiagnosed as ADHD when in fact they have some sort of hearing impairment.
Children and Hearing Loss
Typically, we think of hearing loss as a condition that affects the elderly, and by and large that's accurate. But there millions of young people in the United States alone who suffer from some form of hearing impairment.
In fact, according to the most recent statistics, experts estimate that nearly 1.5 million children under the age of 18 have either mild or significant hearing loss. Moreover, roughly 15% of children between the ages of 6 and 19 have a noticeable amount of hearing loss in at least one of their ears.
Those numbers become more significant when you consider that even mild hearing problems can have a huge impact on a child's development. In some cases, children with only low levels of hearing loss have reported missing almost half of what their teachers say in class. Imagine the difficulty of keeping up with your peers if you miss out on that much information.
Proper Testing is Key
When trying to determine why a child may be having trouble focusing, it's important to cover all of the bases. ADHD may be the culprit most of the time, but a misdiagnosis can result in delayed development and lead to hearing problems getting worse. Conversely, when hearing impairment is discovered early and proper corrective measures are taken, such as using hearing aids, children tend to develop at the same pace as their peers, both academically and socially.
If your child is falling behind in school or seems to have trouble focusing, schedule a screening test with a qualified healthcare provider in your area. Remember, the earlier you intervene, the easier it is to get your child's development back on the right track.
If you or someone you know would like to learn more about hearing loss and how to treat it, please feel free to schedule a consultation or contact one of our representatives today!