Detecting hearing problems in kids can help in early diagnosis of autism: Study

The complex brain development disorder, characteristic of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), affects nearly 1 percent of the world population. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network, nearly one in 68 American children was diagnosed with ASD in 2012.

It is not easy to detect ASD among children before they turn two. However, a careful look may help detect signs of the disorder when the affected kids are between the age of 12-18 months. Medical practitioners have said that timely detection of the disorder before the children turn 18 months allows them to rewire the brain of the affected kids and reverse manifestations of the disorder.

Screening young children for hearing problems associated with autism

While researchers across the world are busy studying ways to diagnose autism in children at an early stage, a group of scientists has come up with a simple hearing test that can help identify potential risk of autism in children before they are old enough to speak.

The scientists in the study, titled “Children with autism spectrum disorder have reduced otoacoustic emissions at the 1 kHz mid-frequency region,” put forward a simple, safe and non-invasive mode to examine children for hearing problems linked with autism.

The researchers of the study, published in the journal Autism Research in July 2016 said, “This technique may provide clinicians a new window into the disorder and enable us to intervene earlier and help achieve optimal outcomes.”

The scientists from the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York conducted a test on hearing abilities of both autistic and non-autistic children aged between 6 and 17 years. It was found that autistic kids exhibited hearing difficulties in a specific frequency range, from 1 to 2 kHz, necessary for conversation purposes.

The severity of hearing difficulty was linked to the seriousness of autism symptoms. Reiterating on the objective of the research as to why they chose to study hearing difficulties as potential signs of autism, one of the co-authors of the study Dr. Loisa Bennetto said, “Auditory impairment has long been associated with developmental delay and other problems, such as language deficits. While there is no association between hearing problems and autism, difficulty in processing speech may contribute to some of the core symptoms of the disease.”

Only specially trained professionals manage to assess children for behavioral signs

Scientists or medical practitioners have not been able to come up with any evidence-based test that can help in the correct diagnosis of autism. Only specially trained professionals are able to assess children for behavioral signs that can indicate the disorder. The American Academy of Pediatrics clearly lays down the need for pediatricians to analyze babies and small children for any exhibited signs of development delays at every checkup. While the onset of the disorder is characterized by social communication impairments and restricted repetitive behaviors, auditory impairment as an early sign of the disorder can go a long way in helping doctors diagnose the existence of the disorder, if any.

Road to recovery

A recent government survey, National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), has pinpointed that nearly one in 45 children aged between 3 to 17 years is suffering from ASD. These figures are way more than estimated by the CDC regarding the disorder’s pervasiveness. The numbers revealed during the NHIS indicated that nearly 2 percent American children are living with autism.

The figures also stress the urgent need to make available increased access to the necessary care and treatment for autistic children before the likely deterioration of the disorder. If you or a loved one is suffering from any kind of mental disorder, contact the 24/7 Mental Health Helpline to find the right line of treatment for mental illness. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-653-8178 or chat online to get in touch with a mental health specialist and start the journey to recovery today.