Everything You Need to Know About Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder
People often get confused when they hear about Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder (ANSD). To help you understand how it could affect your child’s ability to learn in a classroom and communicate effectively, we’ve created this easy-to-understand guide to ANSD.
ANSD can manifest differently from child to child. This is something we like to emphasize at the CCHAT Center because not every child with ANSD will experience it the same way. Some children will have thresholds in the normal hearing range, and others could have profound hearing loss, or it could be anywhere in between.
It can be hard for families to understand this, and that’s why it’s important to note that ANSD has more to do with the way the brain processes the sounds that the ears are hearing.
ANSD is similar to a radio that is out of tune or can’t quite get the frequency right. Children with ANSD may hear that somebody is talking, but they find it hard to tune in and hear exactly what is being said.
ANSD can fluctuate so much that it’s important for children with ANSD to work regularly with their audiologist.
Let’s take a closer look at ANSD to understand exactly what it is, what causes it and what can help treat it.
What is Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder?
ANSD is a hearing disorder where the inner ear can receive sounds normally, but the signals leaving the inner ear can be misinterpreted by the brain. It can also mean that the hearing nerve doesn’t process sound normally.
Some of the most common symptoms of auditory neuropathy include:
- Hearing loss
- Fluctuations in hearing
- Difficulty understanding speech
- Other neuropathic issues (can affect writing, running or even talking)
What causes Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder?
A variety of things can cause ANSD. The most common causes are:
- Genetic disposition
- Trauma or disease
For example, premature birth or an immunity disorder could cause ANSD.
How is Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder Diagnosed?
There are four types of audiological evaluations to diagnose ANSD.
These tests are:
- Tympanometry and acoustic reflexes
- Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR)
- Otoacoustic emissions
- Behavioral audiogram
The ABR is the most reliable test for diagnosing ANSD, as it analyzes how a child’s brain is processing sounds.
Depending on tests conducted at birth, your child might pass the initial newborn hearing screening and go undiagnosed with ANSD. You might not suspect hearing loss right away, which is why it’s important to keep an eye on the changes in your child’s day-to-day behavior.
ANSD can be diagnosed shortly after birth with an ABR evaluation completed by a pediatric audiologist. However, some children are diagnosed at older ages.
What are the Treatments for Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder?
Treatment options for ANSD include:
1. Hearing Aids
Some children with ANSD benefit from using hearing aids. However, it’s hard to know whether a child will benefit from hearing aids before trying them.
2. Cochlear Implants
Many children with ANSD benefit from receiving cochlear implants. In a few cases, where the hearing problem involves the auditory nerve, the implant might have limited success.
3. Hearing Assistive Technology (HAT) Systems
HAT includes a variety of wireless or frequency modulation (FM) audio distribution systems. They can be used as a stand-alone system, or in conjunction with hearing aids or cochlear implants. You can read more about HAT systems in our previous blog.
It depends on the individual child which treatment option is right for them.
At the CCHAT Center, we have several students with ANSD, and we are able to help them learn to communicate and listen.
If you have any questions about ANSD or want to get in touch with one of our specialists, contact CCHAT by calling (916) 361-7290 or send us a message on our contact page.