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July 1993

Attention Deficits in Children and Adolescents With Hearing Loss: A Survey

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Pediatrics (Drs D. Kelly and B. Kelly and Ms Bell) and Division of Statistics and Research Consulting (Dr Verhulst), Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Springfield, and Illinois School for the Deaf, Jacksonville (Dr Jones and Ms Moulton).

Am J Dis Child. 1993;147(7):737-741. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1993.02160310039014

• Objectives.  —To determine the prevalence of reported attention deficits in a sample of children who are deaf or hard of hearing and to examine associated variables.

Design.  —Cross-sectional survey.

Setting.  —Residential school for the deaf.

Participants.  —All students attending the school (n=238; median age, 16.0 years; range, 4 to 21 years). Subjects were subgrouped by cause of deafness for further analyses.

Intervention.  —None.

Measurements/Main Results.  —School personnel completed questionnaires that are commonly used in the assessment of attention problems. Teachers completed the Attention Deficit Disorder With Hyperactivity (ADD-H) Comprehensive Teacher Rating Scale (ACTeRS) and an abbreviated version of the Attention-Activity section of the ANSER (Aggregate Neurobehavioral Student Health and Education Review) System Questionnaires. Dormitory supervisors rated students on the Conners' Parent Rating Scale and the ANSER System Questionnaires. The mean factor scores for the total sample of deaf and hard-of-hearing students on the Attention and Hyperactivity scales of the ACTeRS and Conners' questionnaires did not differ from the normative data. The 64 students with hereditary deafness received significantly better ratings than the 75 with an acquired cause of deafness such as bacterial meningitis or congenital rubella. Raw scores on the ACTeRS were converted to percentile equivalents based on the normative sample. On the Attention Scale, 38.7% of those with acquired deafness were rated below the 20th percentile (indicative of problems); only 14.1% of the students with hereditary deafness were in this range (P=.002).

Conclusions.  —Ratings of attention for students with hearing loss, attending a residential school, did not differ from the normative data. However, the subgroup of children with acquired sensorineural deafness appear to be at increased risk for attention problems.(AJDC. 1993;147:737-741)

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