Impaired Hearing in Left Ear Found in Children with Autism

Hearing is one of many compromised processes found in children with autism spectrum (ASD). Behavioral, cognitive, and developmental markers are often used in the diagnosis of ASD, but some children are first referred for examination because of a perceived hearing loss. When infants and toddlers do not respond to vocal stimuli, parents may assume that their hearing is impaired. However, according to new research, the hearing of children with ASD may be compromised because of the presence of visual stimuli and an attention shifting deficit.

Tatiana A. Stroganova of the MEG Centre at the Moscow State University of Psychology and Education in Russia recently conducted a study of auditory response on a sample of young children with and without ASD. Theories on how ASD affects neurological processes suggest that attention shifting and attentional dysregulation are compromised. More specifically, when a child with ASD is focused on a specific stimulus, they have difficulty shifting their attention to any other co-occurring stimuli, whether it is visual or auditory.

Stroganova’s study involved presenting the children with clicks of certain duration and volume in each of their ears at separate times. A visual stimulus was present at the time of the auditory test and Stroganova assessed how well the children interpreted and responded to the clicks while focusing on the stimulus. She found that in typically developing children (TD), the response to the clicks was stronger and greater than the response found in the children with ASD. Further, the children with ASD showed increased impairments when the clicks were administered in the left ear.

This suggests that the right-lateralized neurological regions which affect attention shifting and arousal may be impaired in children with ASD. This deficit could also influence sensory processes and even behavior. Interestingly, the right ear click responses were relatively similar for children from both the TD and ASD groups. Although more work needs to be done, this study demonstrates that identification of early neurological impairment may be a novel and beneficial way to identify which children may be at risk for ASD. Stroganova concluded, “Our findings suggest that some right-lateralized brain systems that are crucially important for arousal and attention re-orienting are compromised in individuals with autism.”

Stroganova, T.A., Kozunov, V.V., Posikera, I.N., Galuta, I.A., Gratchev, V.V., et al. (2013). Abnormal pre-attentive arousal in young children with autism spectrum disorder contributes to their atypical auditory behavior: An ERP study. PLoS ONE 8(7): e69100. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0069100

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  • Michelle b

    Michelle b

    August 6th, 2013 at 2:37 PM

    How strange that the sides of the brain can even affect hearing. I knew h=a little about how it could cause you to be a different kind of learner but this goes even deepr than that. Great material,

  • Perry B

    Perry B

    August 6th, 2013 at 5:57 PM

    So loving all these great article on Autism. Please keep ’em coming!!

  • johney


    August 6th, 2013 at 5:59 PM

    so fascinating how all of this can happen in one kid i am so blessed that my kids were normal but my neighbor’s son is autistic she has such a hard time with him i really feel for her and pray for her every day he is such a sweet boy but faces so many challenges.

  • Hal


    August 6th, 2013 at 6:01 PM

    Just wondering if this has been explored with children with ADD or ADHD. May be a correlation there, too. Who knows?

  • Wendie


    August 6th, 2013 at 6:04 PM

    Geez! You’d think these kids would have a hard enough lot in life without the addition of hearing difficulties. I can’t help but wonder why so many kids now a days have autism. It’s sort of like food allergies. I can’t remember a single kid ever being diagnosed with autism (or food allergies) when I was a kid. What in the world is causing these problems? Is it the horrendous nutrition we have now, pollution, global warming, etc? It just blows my mind that these issues are so prevalent in our society these days.

  • Les


    August 7th, 2013 at 4:31 AM

    I am very curious about how early this shows up because like I know in the state I live in, and I would assume pretty much everywhere, one of the very first tests that is perfromed on a newborn is a hearing test. So what if these abnormalities are recognized at even this early atage. Do you think that there is enough scienec and research out there to then say hey, there is something that isn’t right here, it could be this, and to start way early in this intervention that needs to take place? I mean, I don’t know exactly how successful intervention at this age could be and you certainly wouldn’t want parents all upset about what might or might not happen but it could prepare them for the possibility, and for what to be on the lookout for and then they might react sooner if they started noticing weird things happening with the child a little sooner than they may otherwise.

  • Michelle


    August 12th, 2013 at 12:05 PM

    I am in on ASD and deaf myself. Any questions will be happy provide with me.

  • Nur


    August 15th, 2013 at 11:17 AM

    I’m asperger myself and suffer from impaired hearing in left ear.

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