UNT clinic is one of three worldwide offering special testing for children with autism

Thursday, September 5, 2019 - 09:48

DENTON (UNT), Texas – The University of North Texas is now accepting patients for a specialized auditory processing assessment and intervention focused on children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. 

The majority of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder experience some form of auditory processing issue, yet there are currently no set standard testing procedures for them, according to Erin Schafer, professor and director of graduate studies in audiology. Researchers at UNT’s College of Health and Public Service’s Department of Audiology and Speech Language Pathology hope to change that with the help of a $111,843 grant from Sonova USA Inc.

“Children with ASD can experience a variety of auditory processing problems that vary greatly from what occur in children without ASD, and they are a highly underserved demographic in audiology,” said Schafer. “With this clinic, we will be able to compile and pool data that will allow us to closely look at the areas where they struggle most and establish an efficient and sensitive testing protocol.”

Only the UNT Speech and Hearing Center and Hearts for Hearing in Oklahoma offer auditory services specifically for children with ASD. Additionally, UNT’s clinic provides intervention services for the children made possible through a previous study funded by a Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board grant. In the study, Schafer and Lauren Mathews, principal lecturer, confirmed that use of remote microphone hearing technology from Sonova USA Inc., computerized listening training and guided repetitive practice of processing speech in noise improves auditory processing abilities in individuals with ASD.

“Our THECB-funded study, as well as several other published studies confirm that use of remote microphone technology, which sends a teacher’s voice directly to a child’s ear at a comfortable volume, significantly improves speech understanding and classroom behavior in children with ASD,” said Schafer. “Given the measurable benefits, we will continue to fit this effective hearing technology on children with ASD.”

Schafer said she will publish the results of the Sonova USA Inc.-funded study in hopes of creating international standard operating procedures for audiology testing of children with ASD.

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108

Media Contacts:

Devynn D. Case