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Autism news: Can Your Child Really Hear You? Causes of Behavior (and Learning) Problems Part 5
December 13, 2019

Is your child really able to hear you whenever you speak to her?

You may be thinking, I had my child’s hearing checked, and she tested fine.

I too had my son’s hearing checked, and he passed with flying colors. After he passed the test, I assumed from then on that he could hear me.

Consider the true story of a nine-year-old boy with autism from the book, Accessing the Healing Power of the Vagus Nerve by Stanley Rosenberg, a cranialsacral therapist with over thirty years of experience.

The boy’s mother brought him in for therapy because of his aggressive behavior at school.

Stanley Rosenberg usually tested a child’s hearing by having the child turn his back to him and then asking him to perform a task, such as taking his coat off.

Oftentimes, a mother would protest such a test, saying that the child was at a disadvantage unless he could see the speaker’s face. This mother voiced the same concern.

But that was exactly the test he was trying to perform. He wanted to see if the child could hear without seeing his face.

It turned out that this mother would often ask her son to do something while she was in another room. Since the boy was unable to filter out background noise, he had no idea his mother had said anything to him.

After three attempts to get his attention, his mother would slap him because she thought he had heard her and simply refused to obey.

In reality, the child had no idea that his mother had said anything to him until she slapped him. His fifth and seventh cranial nerves were not functioning well enough to filter out the background noise.

In school when the boy asked another child to do something and s/he didn’t respond as he wished, the boy would slap the other child.

Why? Because without realizing it, his mother had taught him that the way to communicate with others was to give them your message and slap them if they didn’t immediately do what they were asked to do.

This is an example of what can happen when we don’t understand our children’s limitations. If we suspect our kids aren’t hearing us, then it’s quite possible that they aren’t.

Rosenberg believes that the hearing test our kids take doesn’t measure all the elements that are necessary for good hearing.

During a traditional hearing test like the one my son took, the child hears a single tone with all background noise blocked out. This measures one aspect of hearing, but does that really mean our kids can hear everything the way the rest of us do? Obviously, it isn’t safe to make that assumption.

It’s easy to be understanding with a child in a wheelchair. We would never expect her to walk.

But unseen handicaps such as an inability to filter out background noise can make life harder for our kids when we aren’t aware that they can’t hear us. They aren’t aware that their hearing isn’t normal because they’ve always been this way and they don’t realize that they can’t hear properly.

So they aren’t going to say, “But Mom, I can’t hear you. I need your understanding.”

So what can we do? If your child appears to have difficulty hearing you from another room or when his back is turned, try to be sure he can see your face when you speak to him. Make sure he has heard and understood your message.

Letting his teacher(s) know about his limitations is also important. Teachers need to know about such a disability so that they can make special arrangements for the child. They should also understand that an inability to filter out background noise makes it that much harder for him to communicate with others.

In the near future, I plan to research effective disciplinary techniques.

But any disciplinary methods will be unsuccessful (not to mention distressing to your child) if a disability or medical condition is the reason for the misbehavior.

That’s why I recommend first ruling out physical, medical or other challenges that could be the culprit before trying any disciplinary techniques.

In the words of Thich Nhat Hanh, “If you understand, and you show that you understand, you can love, and the situation will change.”

Warm Regards,

Kay Donato

Discover Autism Help, LLC

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