Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) frequently also have auditory processing difficulties which affect their ability to hear and communicate especially in difficult listening situations such as when there is other conversation or noise going on. The auditory processing difficulties may also affect ability to hear prosody in speech, that is the changes in tone and emphasis that add meaning to spoken language and help us distinguish the emotion associated with a statement and whether or not it is a question or is spoken with humour. Complex auditory environments are stressful for children with ASD as they are also for many children with APD. SoundSkills is participating in a project with APD and ASD experts at the University of North Texas and the University of Melbourne to diagnose and treat auditory processing deficits in children with ASD. The project is supported by hearing instrument company Sonova.
Research at the University of Melbourne has shown that wearing remote microphone hearing aid systems in class reduces listening stress for children with ASD. Research at the University of North Texas has shown that children with ASD benefit from auditory training and the use of remote microphone hearing aid systems. Research by Dr Joan Leung at the University of Auckland has shown that children with ASD can improve their understanding of prosody with training, and that this training progresses faster if they wear remote microphone hearing aid systems. All this research shows that many children with ASD can be helped to hear and communicate better.
Dr Leung is also the ASD Adviser on the staff of SoundSkills and has been working with SoundSkills clinicians to develop their skills and protocols for working with children with ASD, and diagnosing and treating their auditory processing difficulties.