APD, Normal Hearing, and FM Systems
Johnston, John, Kreisman, Hall, and Crandell (2009) reported that auditory processing disorder (APD) negatively impacts speech perception, academic performance, on-task behavior, as well as emotional and psychological health. The authors compared two groups. The first group (experimental) was composed of children diagnosed with APD and fitted with FM receivers. The second group (control) were essentially matched in age, but did not have APD and were not fitted with FM receivers (except for one brief exposure to FM early in the study to obtain baseline measures).
Subjects in the experimental group had all been diagnosed with APD and included eight males and two females, ranging in age from eight years to 15 years, all with normal hearing and normal tympanograms. Subjects in the control group included nine males and four females, ranging in age from eight years to 13 years, all with normal hearing and normal tympanograms and not diagnosed with APD.
Children in the experimental group were binaurally fitted with Edulink FM Systems (Phonak), a non-occluding, ear-level style FM receiver system. Johnston et al reported that the FM receiver had a volume control (VC) range of 14 dB and was pre-set at maximum volume "consistent with safe use for normal-hearing children." Parents and children were instructed to keep the VC at maximum unless a change was required based on the listening situation. FM receivers were worn essentially in all school-based lecture situations. Home use was not required, but was encouraged.
Among the multiple positive findings—children with APD and FM receivers showed improved academic performance after only five months. The Listening Inventory for Education (LIFE) pre-versus-post treatment (FM) effects demonstrated benefits across the majority of domains with significant improvements in "teacher in front of room, teacher talking with back turned" and, "other students making noise." Psychosocial status was also found to be improved five months post-FM with regard to parent and student ratings of focus-of-control, anxiety, depression, and interpersonal relationships.
Johnston et al noted that long-term benefits of FM with regard to academic, emotional, and psychosocial status and with regard to speech-perception abilities. They recommend "binaural fitting for personal FM use for children with APD" consistent with published findings. Further, they recommend annual evaluation of children with APD (for those with and without intervention) to monitor the status of their auditory processing ability.
For More Information, References, and Recommendations:
Johnston KN, John AB, Kreisman NV, Hall JW, Crandell CC. (2009) Multiple Benefits of Personal FM System Use by Children with Auditory Processing Disorder (APD). International Journal of Audiology (48)6:371-383.