Authors: Schafer EC, Mathews L, Mehta S, Hill M, Munoz A, Bishop R, Moloney M
Title: Personal FM systems for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and/or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): An initial investigation
Source: Journal of Communication Disorders 2013 46(1): 30-52
Year: 2013
Research Design: Case Series

The goal of this initial investigation was to examine the potential benefit of a frequency modulation (FM) system for 11 children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or both disorders through measures of speech recognition performance in noise, observed classroom behavior, and teacher-rated educational risk and listening behaviors. Use of the FM system resulted in significant average improvements in speech recognition in noise for the children with ASD and ADHD as well as large effect sizes. When compared to typically functioning peers, children with ASD and ADHD had significantly poorer average speech recognition performance in noise without the FM system but comparable average performance when the FM system was used. Similarly, classroom observations yielded a significant increase in on-task behaviors and large effect sizes when the FM system was in use during two separate trial periods. Although teacher ratings on questionnaires showed no significant improvement in the average level of educational risk of participants, they did indicate significant improvement in average listening behaviors during two trial periods with the FM system. Given the significantly better speech recognition in noise, increased on-task behaviors, and improved teacher ratings of listening behaviors with the FM system, these devices may be a viable option for children who have ASD and ADHD in the classroom. However, an individual evaluation including audiological testing and a functional evaluation in the child’s primary learning environment will be necessary to determine the benefit of an FM system for a particular student.

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