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Baylor College of Medicine News

Hearing or vision test may be solution to 'bad behavior'

For some children a health problem could be to blame for acting up in class or even a drop in grades. Doctors at Baylor College of Medicine say what might look like a behavioral issue could actually be a sign of hearing loss or even a vision problem.

If a child cannot hear or see properly, they cannot pay attention in class, said Dr. James H. Bray, associate professor of family and community medicine at BCM.

Not aware of problem

"Children may not be cognitively mature enough to make the connection that they have a problem hearing or seeing, or they may even feel embarrassed to say they have a problem and a natural reaction is to withdraw," he said.

Bray added that sometimes the child may not even realize there is an issue. They may think they can hear what the teacher is saying but actually are getting the information wrong, so it looks like they aren’t paying attention or are being defiant.

Not always a learning disability

In some cases parents may think their child is showing the first signs of a learning disability, which is why Bray said it is important to see a doctor for a proper diagnosis.

"Before a parent begins to worry, a family medicine doctor or pediatrician can conduct a basic hearing and vision test that can identify whether a hearing or vision specialist is needed, or if another problem is to blame," Bray said. "They can keep an eye on these issues by making hearing and vision tests a part of their families annual check ups."

Bray said once a diagnosis is made there may be simply solutions such as making sure a child sits in the front of the class.