Personal FM Systems in Children with a Spatial Processing Deficit
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Audiology
Aims: The aims of this study were to identify school-aged children who exhibit spatial stream segregation deficits by using the Listening in Spatialized Noise – Sentences (LiSN-S) test, and to determine the effectiveness of personal FM systems as an intervention for these children. Method: Participants consisted of 22 children between the age of 7;0 and 11;11 years with normal hearing thresholds. Based on their performance on the LiSN-S test, participants with normal and impaired spatial stream segregation ability were assigned to the control group (n=12) and the FM group (n=10) respectively. Participants from the latter group were provided with and required to use the personal ear-level FM devices during school time for a period of eight weeks. The impact of the FM systems was determined by both quantitative and qualitative data, which were gathered at three sampling points: (1) Before FM trial; (2) At the end of the FM trial (i.e. after eight weeks of use); and finally (3) At eight weeks following withdrawal of the FM systems. Results: Results revealed children with APD improved on their ability to segregate spatial streams following the use of personal FM devices, whereas control participants did not exhibit this change. The personal FM devices seemed to provide the greatest benefit to the younger participants. Qualitative measures, including individualised Goal Attainment Scales (GAS), indicated positive improvements in auditory behaviours following the use of FM devices in all participants. In addition, teachers anecdotally reported positive behavioural changes in the FM participants during the FM trial. Conclusion: Personal FM systems appear to be an effective management strategy for school age children who exhibit difficulty in spatial stream segregation.