Is it ADHD or hearing loss?

Healthy hearing is important for children to effectively develop language and do their best in school. Being able to communicate efficiently helps not only their social lives but also their emotional and cognitive development. We understand that kids are busy bees: It’s hard to keep up with the knee scrapes, the latest fridge masterpiece, and what they’re eating that day — let alone the subtleties of their hearing health. So we’ve created a comprehensive collection of information to help you keep on top of your kids’ (from children’s to teens’) hearing health.

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

According to the American Psychiatric Association, ADHD is one of the most common disorders affecting children. There are two different types of ADHD: hyperactive/impulsive or combined type.1 The symptoms of each are similar to one another, but the primary difference lies in the combined type always being on the move and having a hard time sitting still.

It’s not uncommon for kids to be misdiagnosed with the inattentive type because its symptoms are similar to that of a hearing loss.

Inattentive-type symptoms:

  • Difficulty paying close attention to verbal directions and details
  • Seemingly careless mistakes in school
  • Problems staying on task during activities for long periods of time
  • Apparent inability to listen when spoken to (i.e., seems to be elsewhere)
  • Difficulty completing instructions with schoolwork, chores, or job duties
  • Poor time management resulting in missing deadlines
  • Problems with organization and advanced planning
  • Avoidance of tasks requiring sustained mental effort
  • Seemingly forgetful and frequently losing things
  • Easily distracted


Hearing loss

Though essential to social, emotional, and cognitive development, hearing is often a sense that’s overlooked medically. Early identification and intervention of hearing loss in children can lessen the impact on a child’s development, giving them the opportunity to live up to their full potential socially and academically.

Did you know that hearing loss is the most common birth defect?2 Approximately 14.9 percent of U.S. children have low-frequency or high-frequency hearing loss of at least 16 decibels (dB) in one or both ears.<sup3


Hearing loss symptoms in school-age children: 4

  • Inattentiveness
  • Inappropriate responses to questions
  • Daydreaming
  • Trouble following directions
  • Speech problems


Young Adults

Teens have quite a bit on their plates, and one of the last things they’re thinking of is protecting their hearing. However, it is essential to do so because hearing plays a critical role in their success academically as well as socially. This age group is at a greater risk for high-frequency hearing loss because of lifestyle choices like standing too close to speakers at concerts, listening to music at unsafe levels, not wearing hearing protection at loud sporting events, or hunting.

Look for these signs of hearing loss:

  • Turning up the television to an excessive volume
  • Saying “what” frequently
  • Only responding during eye contact
  • Complaining of hearing loss
  • Withdrawing socially


The Importance of Early Detection

Hearing loss causes delays in development of speech and language, and those delays then lead to issues in learning, usually resulting in poor school performance. An inability to hear can also hinder kids’ social skills and, in turn, their confidence, both of which are essential in setting up a child for success now and in the future.

If your child is having a hard time in school — particularly if they have or have had recurring ear infections — they should be seen by a hearing care professional for an evaluation. The hearing care professional can then recommend the most effective course of action.

If you believe your teen is showing signs of hearing loss, contact us today. Though we do not perform hearing screenings on children, we will be able to direct you to a professional we trust.

  3. Niskar AS, et al. (1998, April 8). Prevalence of hearing loss among children 6 to 19 years of age: The Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. JAMA. 279(14):1071–1075.