The Similarities Between ADHD and Hearing Loss You Need to Know
The symptoms of ADHD and hearing loss are strikingly similar, and both need to be
properly diagnosed to help kids learn, do, and be their best. Recognizing the differences
between the learning disability and the hearing disability is essential to helping kids
succeed now and in the future.
So what’s the difference?
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.
• 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
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.3
Hearing loss symptoms in school-age children: 4
• Inappropriate responses to questions
• Trouble following directions
• Speech problems
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. We will be
able to perform a hearing screening to determine if there is hearing loss, the extent of
that loss, and why. As a family-centered practice, we encourage your entire family, as
well as your pediatrician, to be involved in all aspects of this process.
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.