Q&A: Is there a surgical procedure that can make sure my autistic son's ears and hearing are fine?

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Our son Austin is autistic. He is 5 and cannot talk. Austin is always putting his index fingers under his ear lobe area on both sides to seemingly adjust his own volume. We were told his hearing is fine through audio hearing tests with headphones but if he can't talk and doesn't understand how can this be certain? Is there a surgical procedure that can make sure his ears and hearing are fine? We get the feeling his hearing is preventing his speech somehow.

- Greg


Jeffrey Scott Gorodetsky, MD - LocateADoc.com

This is an excellent question, although difficult to answer completely without examining your child. Hearing can be both through air conduction, which is the usual way, or bone conduction. If your son is having hearing problems but can't articulate this, he may be putting pressure there to use the bone conduction method to increase his hearing. This could have been learned through trial and error over time.
There is no surgical procedure that I know of to test hearing, but there is a procedure called BAER(brainstem audio evoked response), which is an excellent test of hearing, and requires no vocal responses. It is what is used in newborns as a hearing screen.
I hope this helps to answer some of your concerns.

--Jeffrey Scott Gorodetsky, MD
Stuart, FL

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