Mild Hearing Loss or ADD??

I want to share another thing I learned that blew me away in our “year of discovery” (when AC was in 3rd grade).  Apparently, a lot of kids that are HOH get misdiagnosed as having ADD – Attention Deficit Disorder.  AC was almost one of them.  That was how we figured out he needed the FM and all – because his teacher started saying all these little negative “behavioral” things were happening. Things like many of the ones noted on this list from phonic ear.  Check out the chart: 

Similarities Between Mild Hearing Loss & Attention Deficit Disorder
Similarities Between Mild Hearing Loss & Attention Deficit Disorder

Maybe, this information is old news now… but, when I first heard this I had a HUGE “light-bulb moment”.  I wish I had known this information BEFORE that point.  So, maybe this will help someone else out there who’s just starting off with a child diagnosed with mild hearing loss.  

At the time I discovered this (thru my OWN research) we were in the process of weeks of jumping through hoops. 

Including when I THOUGHT the school was testing AC for speech articulation/pronunciation – but, instead they tested his comprehension/processing skills/behavior.  The report they sent me echoed some of the things his teacher had been saying – implying he had ADD.  I had to make them re-test for his articulation/pronunciation.

I was told by a special teacher of the Deaf – that “they” really could not even accurately test a child with hearing loss for ADD – because it’s almost impossible to say behavior was caused by being HOH, or if truly ADD.  Especially considering the person that did the testing was NOT a trained professional in the area of hearing loss.

When I received a report from the school, I sent the below response:

Mrs. XXX,

I received a copy of your evaluation on AC.  Thank you for all your time and effort. I am very happy that you found him to be within “normal” or “above average” abilities on his speech and language skills. Wonderful!

In your report, you also said that you observed AC “having trouble sitting still”, “moving his legs”, etc. There was one thing in particular you wrote that concerns me. 
You wrote:

     “His extraneous movement did not appear to be related to his hearing loss”.

I’m somewhat confused by that statement, and wonder why/how you came to that conclusion?

I’ve only recently learned that many hearing impaired children are commonly misdiagnosed as being ADD, or having other “behavioral problems”. Apparently, they exhibit many of the same symptoms, such as being impulsive, easily side-tracked, etc. I was also told that hearing impaired children can be easily fatigued – which can contribute to this type of thing as well. Of course, each child is unique with their needs and how their hearing impairment affects them.

We are currently in the process of determining just what AC’s needs may be, and how best to meet them. We are in week 3 of the trial period for the Sound Field system. There was some discussion on whether he might be better off with a Personal FM system. We are also in the process of getting new hearing aids. So, at this point, much is still up in the air and in “wait and see” mode.

I do appreciate your help, and value your input to help us with this process. I certainly welcome any other comments/advice, and will continue to monitor AC’s behavior as you suggested – but, I also would like to know how you can make that deduction regarding what is causing AC’s “extraneous movement” ?  

I never did receive a response from her. So, instead, I asked the school to file my letter , attached to her report in his student file- and we continued on with all our other meetings, etc. Even after all this, and while we were in week 3 of trying out a Sound Field system – his teacher still wouldn’t let go of believing that his “issues” were not hearing related. She told me “AC is still needing reminders”, is “unorganized”, and “chatty”. She kept moving his seat away from anyone she thought he was talking to. She complained that he was asking her too many questions. ??? She actually assigned him a seat in the back off the room, sitting at a table with his BACK to her ?!?). When I mentioned this to her, she said, “Well, when I start talking they all turn around”. ?!?

I was so upset with this woman, but did all I could to not let it show to AC or get too outraged at the meetings, etc. I can understand that in the beginning she also didn’t know that AC’s hearing was the issue… but, you would think once presented with all kinds of info, and a concerned mom – you would change your tune. ? She never did. Perhaps, it was my own fault for not knowing the right way to approach or advocate. We were all learning.

It wasn’t until we had a special teacher of the deaf come in and observe AC in the classroom – who made many suggestions to the teacher – that the teacher started changing her attitude. Thankfully, we have not (YET! *knock on wood!*) encountered such a lack of understanding in any of his other teachers since. Of course, since then, we’ve also had the 504 plan in place – so, things were not so much a mystery or up in the air either.



18 Responses

  1. I’m curious to know what is included in his 504 plan at school. Because my daughter is not delayed via the schools testing results, she does not qualify for an IEP. We have run into lots of trouble with this because the laws protecting you with a 504 are not that good. We hardly get any accommodations for my daughter and are currently in the process of paying for an independent evaluation because school will not do this for her. We have asked for little things like a 15 minute listening breaks, extra set of books at home, and quiet testing area..and nothing was improved. They said it is not required for her to receive a free and appropriate education. That is the only explanation I received. I agree with you that they do not weight the concerns of the parents. I have been to meeting after meeting about the 504 and they fluff my concerns away. It is quite disturbing at times. I have stuck with it though and am hoping that the new evaluation will give us amunition to use at a new review meeting. We are also next week starting to work with an AV therapist to help her in all situations to use the residual hearing she does have. You are your child’s best advocate..SO don’t ever GIVE UP!!

  2. That’s a great comparison chart– where did you find that? I love the great links you have on here!

  3. Karen,
    Thanks for adding me to your list. I love your site, and the other groups you have going. Thank you for doing that. The above chart in this post is from PhonicEar… if you click the picture, it opens the actual file as a PDF with the source info on it. It is a good, clear, list, isn’t it? When I first saw it, I was like – “WOW! THat is is EXACTLY what his teacher is saying!!”. (before he had the FM).

    Hi Sara ,
    Thanks for the nice comments too – and for your input here. It’s so nice to meet other parents who can relate.

    You asked about AC’s 504 plan. Lately, I have been reading about parents struggling to get their HOH children the accomodations they need. They really don’t make it easy, do they?

    In my case, we were originally told my son didn’t qualify for a 504 or an IEP either – because he was “meeting or exceeding” academic standards. I found out that was incorrect. He qualifies for a 504 plan based on the level of his hearing loss alone. The IEP can be a little trickier to get, but, I really think I COULD get him one if I pushed for it. However, we decided that really, his needs could be best met with a 504 – as long as the school cooperated. For example, parents don’t have as many legal rights on the 504. The school CAN have meetings without you there. However, OUR district assured me that they would never just exclude me like that – and so far, they haven’t. Also, my son didn’t require many services… and is an advanced student. So, it seemed the 504 was all he needed.

    My son’s 504 basically states that he gets the use of the FM in school… and some basic considerations (like the teacher repeating things if necessary, and checking in.) So far, he does NOT get the use of a note-taker, or any speech, or any special test accommodations. However, I was told that IF we find that he does need those things – they CAN be added to his 504 plan – and we are keeping an eye out for signs that his needs are changing.

    From what I understand, basically, the 504 plan is for access… more for meeting “physical needs”. Whereas an IEP covers more if there are educational needs that need to be met, including any special education or changes needed to the course curriculum. Either way, if you read the laws they do not mention grades… or failing classes as a requirement. Schools often twist them to mean this, though.

    There’s a good article about this here: , and here: (I love the wrightslaw website).

    Also, if you have a special teacher of the deaf that can get involved… get them. I found the teachers& principal really listened to her – and she really knew the laws, etc.

    Take care,

  4. Thank you for the above info and comments – very helpful for me. Our child has unilateral deafness and has an IEP. We have an independent SLP working with us because according to the school, “you know your daughter isn’t a DEAF child.” The IEP doesn’t have any goals other than speech goals. She uses an FM device at school – but no one checks on it routinely. We have had no less than 6 audiology exams – all with the same results (severe unilateral deafness) and yet if there are problems with her hearing in large groups at school, etc. or if she becomes anxious they ask us what is wrong. At the meetings the school audiologist shakes her head ‘no’ if we attribute anything to her lack of clear hearing. We brought a couple of articles to the meeting re: unilateral deafness and educational consequences. I even brought the article that had the comparison between ADD and Minimal hearing loss. The audiol. did not take one. She is an average student academically, but socially alittle behind. We have not asked for any major help from the school but we would really like the audiologist to not be involved in her case management. When I read a comment about someone’s son now taking responsibility for making sure each teacher gets the FM device – I realized that the school expecting my daughter at age 6 to take responsibility for it is asking alittle bit too much. The audiologist said there was no reason for her to not be able to take care of her own receiver and the teacher’s transmitter. Any suggestions? If you have an independent educator/SLP working with your child and they completely disagree with what the school audiolog/slp says (and they won’t meet with her,) then what is the next step? Thank you!

  5. Hi Ann,

    Thanks for writing. Sounds like you are in a tough spot.

    I’m surprised the school audiologist is not giving your daughter more support. You would think , of all people, she would understand that your daughter’s hearing loss DOES play a part in so much. Our school district audiologist agreed with all the things in the “Mild? No Matter” article, etc…. which explains a lot of what you are saying ( )

    I actually changed our regular audiologist that we used outside of school when my son was in 3rd grade and we started having problems. I felt like the place I was taking him to for 4-5 years had been no help whatsoever when it came to informing me about the things that pertained to my son’s “mild” hearing loss. And, even when I eventually needed info and asked questions – they really couldn’t/didn’t help me. I found someone else that came highly recommended and we are MUCH happier with our new audiologist.

    We also were able to get a Special Teacher of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing involved with the school at one point – and she was a huge help. The teachers would listen to her about things that they were not willing to hear come from me. Like the school distric audiologist, we never knew she existed either until I practically hunted her down. But, those people (the School Audiologist, and the School TOD) were instrumental in getting AC’s 504 set up, and getting the teacher to understand just what his hearing loss entailed.

    My son never had an IEP – but, I thought that you had more rights with an IEP than it seems they are allowing you. I think I would start whatever official process is required to have her IEP really examined and re-thought out. Maybe there is a child advocate you could get involved?

    I wish I had more advice – but, every child and every school and every situation is so different.

    There is a ListServe group that is very active – and has so many people that use it – that I bet they might have more solid advice on how/what you could do. You can sign up to view discussions online, or have them come into your email. It might be a good option for you. They are at:

    Another great resource where you can ask questions and get info is:

    Maybe somoene else will come across this post and have something to add also.

    Please do keep me posted, and I wish you the best of luck. If I think of anything else – I will post it here too…


  6. Deb,
    Thank you so much for the articles (they are great) and the hearing loss website.

    I contacted a deaf educator for our school district – asking simply for her to contact me. She contacted the school and my daughter’s case manager who informed her that my daughter wasn’t having any problems. The school then contacted me and asked why I contacted the deaf educator – once again saying that my daughter wasn’t deaf. I really think that the diagnosis of ‘minimal deafness’ needs to go out the window. If you are profoundly deaf on one side, I hardly consider this minimal. A bus can come roaring towards her and if it is on her deaf side – she doesn’t even acknowledge it.

    We actually bought her personal FM device for her. I hardly want to go into the school everyday and check on it, however if no one else is going to – do I have the right to? She does bring it home with her so we can change batteries, charge it up, and use it at home, however, I want someone to see how much or if there is any interference with it in the computer lab, cafeteria, and other places.

    Yes, we find it very baffling why the school audiologist minimizes everything about the hearing loss. The private audiologist who is very helpful for us has offered to come into the school and speak with them.
    The school does not seem very acceptable to this idea.

    Does anyone know who a person goes to after you have tried the deaf educator for the district. We really feel like you do – that if she could just explain to the teachers the ramifications of ‘mild’ hearing loss then that is all it would take. I am very reluctant to try and contact her again, even though she never did contact me after my request.

    We also did request to revise her IEP. I know by law they are required to honor that request within 30 days (I believe.) They said, “we can’t make changes on the IEP if she doesn’t have problems.” We do not want to get a lawyer at this point because we are asking for very simple changes, and still feel like they may come around.
    Thanks for any input!

  7. Ann –

    I did want to say that you should talk to your school more about this as an access issue, than an adademic acheivement one. I can’t believe you had to purchase the FM system and all yourself. ??? Our district provides that and has to maintain it… and we don’t even have the IEP… just the 504… but, the 504 is based on access issues.

    Our son was always a very good student, so we did get some of the same things you are dealing with like, “he’s doing well enough”. I didn’t want him to do “well enough”… I wanted him to do the best he could do.

    Someone once told me that telling a child with a hearing loss that they are not entitled to an FM system (or any special accomodations) because their grades are okay and they doing “good enough”… is like telling a child in a wheel chair they are not allowed wheel chair acess to all areas of the school (or whatever) based on the fact that they are smart and can learn without having actual access to the same things as the other kids. Some folks might scoff at that comparison, but it illustrates the point, right?

    It’s not about what they can do without… or making excuses for them… or even giving them SPECIAL privledges – but, more about making sure they have EQUAL access as any child that does not have a hearing loss. They don’t have to be deaf to be missing out on things that a normal hearing person would not be missing out on.

    I’m glad you’ve requested the IEP. I think you do need to pull out some big guns (an advocate? or your own teacher of the deaf (who can inform them that she is a teacher of the DEAF AND Hard of Hearing).

    I did find the below articles regarding unilateral heairng loss – not sure how helpful they are – but, here you go!

    Do let me know how you make out, and if you find any other good resources for this. I’ll keep my eyes and ears open too.


  8. PS –
    I would also ask your school why they keep telling you that your daughter isn’t deaf and what that has to do with anything? There is nothing in any law that states a person with a hearing loss has to be “deaf ” to get services… and also, “deaf” is a debate-able term… Many people with moderate hearing loss DO associate themselves with the term.

  9. Deb,
    Thank you so much for all your input. You are so right – the next time I hear ‘she isn’t deaf,’ I am going to ask how they define deafness. Your support has been exactly what I needed. On a side note – when she first had her personal FM on and we went outside she could not believe that the birds sang. That was a great day!

  10. Ann –
    I hope things get better at school. Please keep me posted. =)

  11. Hi Deb! We met with the principal last week to discuss our concerns. The main problem is that the school audiol. tested the efficacy of the phonak device on my daughter. She concluded that our daughter could hear equally well with or without the FM, and could hear perfectly fine without the FM with background noise. So untrue! The principal agreed to having the deaf educator present at the IEP meeting (first time for that, so that is good.) Unfortunately, the pervasive attitude among the teachers is that it is behavior and not hearing (which is in disagreement with our independent specialists.)
    We were reminded again that the homeroom teacher says that our daughter will “agree that she can hear when she is asked.” Please, our daughter is 6 years old and she would agree to anyone in authority and what they say to her. I just don’t want this to continue for the next 12 years. We did feel the principal was open to information but she really didn’t understand things like preservation of hearing in her other ear – the importance of facing the teacher, etc. If the audiologist for the district doesn’t think unilateral deafness is of any significance we can hardly expect the lay person to believe it either. We are not giving up but we are saving energy for “Plan B.” Yes, we did give 3 articles to the principal about hearing loss and implications in the classroom, but once again, how do we work with an audiologist who is telling them that the hearing loss plays no role? They already have the independent audiologist’s testing results too.

    Thank you! Ann

  12. Hi Ann –
    Thanks for the update – and kudos to you for hanging in there and fighting for your daughter.

    At least you felt like the principal was open to some tings. Of course she doesn’t understand. Who would unless you had researched it and/or lived it???

    I am still amazed by this school audiologist’s attitude. She should be on your daughter’s side… helping others understand – and instead it’s like she is just fueling their ignorance on the subject. Like you said,
    “If the audiologist for the district doesn’t think unilateral deafness is of any significance we can hardly expect the lay person to believe it either. ”


    You definitely need to get a 2nd… maybe 3rd and 4th opinion.

    The comment about asking her if she heard or not kills me. I went through that with my son too… I hate to bombard you with more articles – but, if you didn’t see this one – it’s short, sweet, and relevent:

    In one part, last page, it reads:

    “Teaching the Teacher

    Vesey returned from school one afternoon
    and told her mother that the teacher had
    explained a new coping strategy. The teacher
    told Vesey: “Tell me when you don’t hear or miss
    something.” Vesey was puzzled. “How am I supposed
    to know what I didn’t hear?” she asked her mother.
    Unfortunately, teachers and others often asked, “Did you hear okay?” But the person with a hearing loss is the worst judge of what he or she heard. Our biggest problem is not what we don’t hear, but what we think we heard. For people who were born with a hearing loss, what they hear feels normal.

    I would think this would be even MORE true with a young child… like your daughter.

    I remember printing these articles out and telling the teacher, “I’m not making this stuff up you know. It’s not just MY opinion – these are the facts, stats, and advice from experts.”

    Anyway – good luck and stay strong. You’re doing a great job.


  13. Hi Deb! I’ve been reading other people’s stories and it helps so much to know we are not alone. The good news is that our daughter now uses a BAHA and FM , and we are starting auditory therapy in a couple of weeks. We decided we couldn’t wait for the school to approve IEE’s, etc. and so we did them on our own and the results were so different (when compared to the school’s.) We are independently paying for the auditory therapy also – because we really can’t wait for the school to respond to requests (her speech hasn’t improved much since age 5 – and she is almost 7.)
    This has been a struggle but it is also a real eye-opening experience.
    Thank you for your words of advice and the hopefulness you give to everyone. I’ve moved past the anger stage and most of the guilt stage; and I thank you for that. —-Ann—-

  14. Ann –

    Thank you so much for the update!
    and I’m so glad you are taking matters into your own hands. It sounds like you needed to. I would have also done the same thing and paid for outside evaluations, etc. You should share the results with the school also – wether they believe them or not. Perhaps it will be a step towards making the re-think how they are evaluating things. If not, at least you can move forward with determining what your daughter needs. I know it’s not easy. She’s lucky to have a mom like you that will not just accept something that you KNOW isn’t right.

    Anger and guilt are normal… but, it’s great that you are moving forward. You and your daughter will be so much better of as you do.

    Please continue to keep me posted!

    and, HAPPY NEW YEAR! It’s gotta get better, right?


  15. Hi Deb! Yes, it is now March and our daughter’s IEP update still hasn’t been completed. Some progress has been made, but I wanted to share something that I would like to think no parent has had to hear (but I am certain they probably have.) The new SLP admitted that she ‘visited’ with our daughter for about 10 minutes in the library with her and now sat at this IEP meeting ready to write speech/language goals for her. When we were discussing her speech errors (our independent SLP was there also helping with this) the new SLP looked straight at us and said, “you know, sometimes it takes a sibling to make fun of the way their sister or brother says a word in order for them to finally want to change.” It took all my power to not simply lose it. This lady doesn’t even know us, doesn’t know that she doesn’t have a sibling, and obviously feels that it is part of speech therapy to have someone ‘make fun’ of the way you speak. The SPED was present and did not say one thing. She also said that if she doesn’t ‘grow out of’ some of her speech errors, ‘well, maybe she will always talk like that.’ Our independent SLP apologized to us for having to listen to another professional in her field talk that way about our child. It was so disheartening. Yes, things will eventually get better. Ann

  16. Ann – Thanks for the update… and sorry for being so late in my reply.

    I can’t believe your SLP said that to you. Yes – hopefully, things get better – with your SLP’s attitude primarily. Your daughter (like any child) needs encouragement and support and self confidence…. NOT teasing.

    You know what? My son’s speech is almost the same as mine or anyone else we know, but, just a little different. And, guess what? He probably WILL always talk just a little different because of his hearing loss. SO WHAT!?!?! Lots of people talk a little different for a lot of different reasons. To expect him to talk “like everyone else” (or should I say -every other person with “normal” hearing) – is just ridiculous and not realistic. And for professionals in the field to put those kinds of unrealistic expectations on our kids, and on us-the parents, is also really disconcerning. And, anyone who teases a person with hearing loss for thier speech being off? Well, in my book, that shows some real character flaws on the one doing the teasing.

  17. Deb,
    I was so happy to find your blog today, and I’ll be following your posts! My son’s mild-moderate unilateral hearing loss and exceptionally quick learning ability makes it easy for his teachers to forget he has a hearing loss. I’m struggling with getting all of the teachers and service providers on the same page with the few but distinct services he needs, and we’re just finishing kindergarten! This chart really helps remind me that my son’s hearing challenges and behavior are closely tied.

    Do you have any experience with using computer earphones with hearing aids? I’m having trouble locating information and resources to get him equipment that will help him use the computer language programs our K-2 school uses.

  18. Rebecca,
    Hello and welcome. My apologoes for the late response. It IS easy for teachers to forget, isn’t it? Not only teachers, but friends, family….. I find I do need to sort of “stick up” for him frequently and remind folks that he probably didn’t hear them.

    When my son was in 1st grade, I remember meeting with the teacher for a parent teacher conference – and she told me how great he was doing. He had HA’s then, but no FM system or anything. She didn’t think he was having ANY problems hearing her at all. As we talked, she mentioned a “listening skill” they did – where the chilren used headphones and the computer.. had to listen to a story.. following along with the book, then answer questions.

    I immediately was concerened when I heard “head phones”.. and I said, “how did THAT work?”.. and I explained that normally if you covered his hearing aids with something, it made them BUZZ… and she said, he hadn’t complained and was doing fine. ??? I went home and asked AC if he had to wear headphones sometimes in school, and if they worked for him. He told me they didn’t work, and he just didn’t use them. I asked him HOW was he answering the questions then? And, he told me he was READING the book. ?!? I guess, most kids his age weren’t that good of readers yet… He was an early reader, and always an advanced reader. Good thing.

    When I explained to his teacher what he told me, she said she never even noticed he wasn’t wearing them. After that, we tried taking his hearing aids OFF, and letting him wear the headphones on really HIGH volume.. in his case… that seemed to work. He does the same thing now, with his IPOD… he will not wear his hearing aids, and just wear the ear buds and crank them up. Then he REALLY can’t hear me…. but, he does love his music! =)

    If this doesn’t work for your son – then, the school needs to make other arrangements… an FM system… and/or alternate testing/accomodations.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: