A preliminary investigation of sound-field amplification as an inclusive classroom adjustment for children with and without Autism Spectrum Disorder

Published July 2021
Abstract
Purpose

This study aimed to determine if sound-field amplification (SFA) could be used as an inclusive classroom adjustment to support autistic and non-autistic primary school students.

Methods

A two-group, randomised controlled trial (RCT) with crossover was conducted involving 13 students on the autism spectrum (9 males, aged 7.6 to 8.4 years) and 17 typically progressing students not on the spectrum (7 males, aged 7.6 to 9.3 years) from 10 primary schools in and near to Brisbane, Australia. Eighteen of these children had an SFA system in their classrooms in semester one and 12 in semester two of their fourth year of formal schooling (Year 3). Potential proximate benefits were assessed using teacher questionnaire and video analysis of student listening behaviours. Potential distant benefits were assessed using measures of phonological processing in quiet and in noise, attention, memory, and educational achievement.

Results

Potential proximate benefits were observed for all students with teachers rating student listening behaviours higher with SFA versus without SFA. Potential distant benefits were observed for students on the spectrum who showed greater improvements in one area of phonological processing (blending nonsense words in noise) following SFA versus no SFA. No other potential proximate or distant benefits following SFA were observed.

Conclusions

SFA could be used as an inclusive classroom adjustment to support some primary school students with and without autism by potentially putting those students in a better position to learn, but their learning must still take place over time and realistic expectations of what can reasonably be achieved by SFA alone are needed.

Citation
Wilson, W.J., Harper-Hill, K., Armstrong, R., Downing, C., Perrykkad, K., Rafter, M. & Ashburner, J. (2021). A preliminary investigation of sound-field amplification as an inclusive classroom adjustment for children with and without Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of Communication Disorders, 93, 106142. doi: 10.1016/j.jcomdis.2021.106142

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