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Severe hearing loss/autism: How to treat?

zepolv zepolv at ibm.net
Sat Aug 23 12:14:50 EST 1997

Shelly Bower wrote:
> I'm afraid you are going to treat the hearing loss separately from the
> Autism.  Hearing loss is not a symptom in Autism (although auditory
> comphrehension problems are typical)  and while I'm sure there are
> other autistic people who suffer from hearing loss, it probably is not
> common.    I suggest you try posting this to bit.listserv.autism which
> is a newsgroup.  There may be someone there who can help.
> Shelly
> Bower at ma.ultranet.com
> polv <zepolv at ibm.net> wrote:
> >Thanks for the suggestion that the autism site might have something to
> >offer regarding hearing loss and the best treatment in a person with
> >autism.  I found lots of information relating to auditory training and
> >auditory integration, but was unable to find anything pertaining to
> >hearing loss.
> >
> >If I missed something, please let me know; meanwhile, I'll continue
> >looking through the site.

I appreciate your response and also your suggestion to post to the
bit.listserv.autism newsgroup, but I have already posted there on
several occasions and have not had a response -- probably because, as
you say, the combined conditions or diagnoses are not that commonly
found.  There would be a problem, however, in implementing your
suggestion that the conditions be treated separately, since both
conditions are present in the same person.  The autism is not going to
step aside while the hearing loss is being addressed, and neither is the
hearing loss going to take a back seat when addressing the autism.  A
full consideration and understanding of the combination of conditions is
necessary for successful treatment.

A nonverbal person who is autistic and developmentally disabled does not
have the ability to communicate the many problems that might develop
with a hearing aid such as lack of comfort, the presence of undesirable
noises, sounds, etc. I have also heard that hearing aids must be
calibrated differently for use in autistic people since some levels of
sound can actually be painful or extremely agitating.  Is this true?  If
so, what exactly must be done?  It is also quite possible that he won't
have the tolerance level necessary to wear a hearing aid, but we're
certainly willing to give it a try.

Several medical diagnostic procedures under general anesthesia are
scheduled for week after next and will include a repeat ABR.  Ear molds
will be made at the same time.  Are there tests other than ABR which
would give more information?  What are the best methods of evaluating
the degree and type of hearing loss in someone who previously had normal
hearing?  Are there additional areas of expertise desirable in the
audiologist who will be doing the testing in a person with so many
special needs and lacks the ability to communicate? 

I recognize that responses are given with good intentions at helping
with an unusual situation, and I appreciate the time taken to respond. 
I look forward to any comments and/or suggestions that may help my son
to hear again.  Please send cc: of posting to NoDxJustRx at aol.com. 

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