ADHD and hearing loss

November 15, 2020

by Carolyn Mee

Could inattention in your child actually be hearing loss?

Children with unaddressed hearing issues are often labelled as disruptive or inattentive. Before any diagnosis of ADHD, it is important that other factors or undiagnosed conditions that might be responsible for inattention are eliminated.

For example, a child might have ongoing middle-ear infections causing hearing problems. A simple hearing check can rule this out and make sure your child receives the right intervention to help them thrive in and out of the classroom.

According to Hearing Australia more children are fitted with hearing aids after they start school than are fitted after hearing checks at birth. This is because hearing loss can occur at any time and parents need to check their child’s hearing regularly.

Boy with ADHD sitting in class hiding behind his workbook with pencil in ear

If your child is experiencing any of the symptoms below – you should make sure they get their hearing checked.

Poor academic performance

A child who is having trouble hearing the teacher might be missing out on important instruction as well as the important peer group interaction that supports learning.


If a child is unable to recognise who is talking or hear what is being said they might appear to be inattentive. This inattentiveness is not a lack of focus but simply the result of the child not being able to hear.

Not responding when spoken to

A child in a noisy environment, such as a classroom, who is unable to recognise who is talking or where a voice is coming from due to an Auditory Processing Disorder (a brain-based hearing issue) is not ignoring the speaker but simply can’t hear their name being called.

Acting out

Frustration at being misunderstood or not being able to understand friends, family or teachers can lead to disruptive or inappropriate behaviour.

Inappropriate responses to questions

Sometimes mishearing a question or a conversation can result in unusual responses from children trying to fit in.

Difficulty with social interactions

Relationships can be adversely affected due to not being able to hear interactions between peers.

Low self-esteem

Struggling with all these issues will eventually have an impact on a child’s self-esteem. Addressing a child’s hearing loss is critical to ensuring they can thrive.

Making sure that a hearing check is included in the assessments made early in your child’s journey through school can avoid unhelpful labels and ensure measures are put in place to help your child adapt to the new school environment with ease.

To check your and your family’s hearing, download the clinically approved and government-supported Sound Scouts-free hearing test app.

by Carolyn Mee