Development of a screening battery for auditory processing disorder in 6-year olds

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Towson University. Department of Audiology, Speech-Language Pathology and Deaf Studies


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Diagnostic assessment of Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) is currently limited to children 7 years of age and older (AAA, 2010; ASHA, 2005). This is due to the variability of auditory processing (AP) abilities in children younger than 7 years of age (AAA, 2010; ASHA, 2005; Bavin, Grayden, Scott, & Stefanakis, 2010; Dawes & Bishop, 2008; Stollman, van Velzen, Simkens, Snik, & van den Broek, 2003; Stollman, Neijenhuis, Jansen, Simkens, Snik, & van den Broek, 2004a; Stollman, van Velzen, Simkens, Snik, & van den Broek, 2004b). It has been recommended that children younger than 7 years of age who present with listening difficulties be screened for APD (Musiek, Gollegly, Lamb, & Lamb, 1990a). To explore the possibility of early identification through screening, this pilot study looked at the feasibility of screening 6-year-old children for APD. A battery of APD measures comprised of the Auditory Figure Ground + 8 dB SNR test, the Dichotic Digits Test (DDT), and a revised Pitch Pattern Sequence (PPS) test, was administered to 23 typically developing 6-year old children. With modifications to administration, stimuli and scoring, the battery was successfully administered to all participants. A moderate amount of variability was noted on both the DDT and the revised PPS test and a ceiling effect was noted on the AFG + 8 dB SNR test. Results suggest that with the addition of more data collected from a larger sample size, usable normative data ranges for the DDT and revised PPS test could be created for 6-year olds. Due to the ceiling effect noted on the AFG + 8 dB SNR test, a more challenging speech-in-noise measure that better mimics a typical classroom environment should be administered in a future study. Participants with a history of Otitis Media with Effusion (OME) or Pressure Equalization (PE) tubes had poorer phonological processing abilities than those with unremarkable otologic histories; however all participants' language abilities were judged to be normal based on the results of two language screening measures administered as a part of this pilot study. No gender or age (6:0 to 6:5 versus 6:6 to 6:11) effects were found on language or AP abilities. It should be noted that this study had a small sample size; therefore these findings should be interpreted with caution. More research is needed with a larger sample size before this screening battery can be used clinically.