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Studies Show Links Between ADHD and Undiagnosed Hearing Loss

The Better Hearing Institute is drawing attention to the importance of hearing checks as an integral part of the Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) diagnosis process. BHI also is encouraging appropriate treatment by a hearing healthcare professional when hearing loss and/or other auditory-related communication disorders co-exist with ADHD. BHI’s outreach comes in recognition of ADHD Awareness Week, which runs from October 14 through 20.

ADHD is a neurobiological disorder characterized by developmentally inappropriate impulsivity, inattention, and in some cases, hyperactivity. Studies show that hearing loss frequently coexists with ADHD. Children struggling with undiagnosed hearing loss often exhibit similar behavior characteristics as those with ADHD. Academic performance, completing assignments, carrying out multistep directions, and sustaining attention during oral presentations can be problematic for children with either ADHD or undetected hearing loss. Impulsiveness, acting out, inappropriate responses to questions, low self-esteem, and difficulty with social interactions also challenge children struggling with either condition.

“The impact that both ADHD and hearing loss can have on a child’s academic performance, social development, and self esteem is significant,” says Sergei Kochkin, PhD, Executive Director of BHI. “Careful diagnosis is extremely important. It’s particularly beneficial to take an interdisciplinary team approach, which can help accurately determine if a child has ADHD, hearing loss, or both.”

BHI is encouraging hearing health professionals to disseminate information on ADHD and to publicize ADHD Awareness Week in their practices and communities.

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the most common neurobehavioral disorder of childhood, and often persists into adulthood. Five million children (3 to 17 years of age) have ADHD—or 9 percent of this age group.  ADHD also affects an estimated 4.1 percent of adults, ages 18-44, in a given year.

At the same time, about 1.1 million young people under the age of 18 in the United States have hearing loss, and only 16 percent of them use hearing aids. Studies show that children with even mild hearing loss, when left unaddressed, are at risk for learning and other social, emotional, behavioral, and self-image problems.

"I strongly encourage all parents and educators to be aware of the signs of ADHD and unaddressed hearing loss and to advocate for these children,” says Kochkin. “By conducting this outreach during ADHD Awareness Week, we hope to make a difference.”

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