ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202303.0517.v1
Subject: Biology And Life Sciences, Behavioral Sciences Keywords: Autism spectrum disorder; Auditory stream segregation; Hearing assistive technology; Speech-in-noise perception; Tonal language speakers
Online: 30 March 2023 (02:52:15 CEST)
Purpose: Hearing assistive technology (HAT) has been shown to be a viable solution to the speech-in-noise perception (SPIN) issue in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD); however, little is known about its efficacy in tonal language speakers. This study compared sentence-level SPIN performance between Chinese children with ASD and neurotypical (NT) children and evaluated HAT use in improving SPIN performance and easing SPIN difficulty. Methods: Children with ASD (n=26) and NT children (n=19) aged 6-12 performed two adaptive tests in steady-state noise and three fixed-level tests in quiet and steady-state noise with and without using HAT. Speech recognition thresholds (SRT) and accuracy rates were assessed using adaptive and fixed-level tests, respectively. Parents or teachers of the ASD group completed a questionnaire regarding children’s listening difficulty under six circumstances before and after a ten-day trial period of HAT use. Results: Although the two groups of children had comparable SRTs, the ASD group showed a significantly lower SPIN accuracy rate than the NT group. Also, a significant impact of noise was found in the ASD group’s accuracy rate, but not in the NT group’s. There was a general improvement in the ASD group’s SPIN performance with HAT and a decrease in their listening difficulty ratings across all conditions after the device trial. Conclusion: The findings indicated inadequate SPIN in the ASD group using a relatively sensitive measure to gauge SPIN performance among children. The markedly increased accuracy rate in noise during HAT-on sessions for the ASD group confirmed the feasibility of HAT for improving SPIN performance in controlled laboratory settings, and the reduced post-use ratings of listening difficulty further confirmed the benefits of HAT use in daily scenarios.