Assistive technology evaluations: Remote-microphone technology for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

J Commun Disord. 2016 Nov-Dec:64:1-17. doi: 10.1016/j.jcomdis.2016.08.003. Epub 2016 Aug 26.


The goal of this study was to conduct assistive technology evaluations on 12 children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to evaluate the potential benefits of remote-microphone (RM) technology. A single group, within-subjects design was utilized to explore individual and group data from functional questionnaires and behavioral test measures administered, designed to assess school- and home-based listening abilities, once with and once without RM technology. Because some of the children were unable to complete the behavioral test measures, particular focus was given to the functional questionnaires completed by primary teachers, participants, and parents. Behavioral test measures with and without the RM technology included speech recognition in noise, auditory comprehension, and acceptable noise levels. The individual and group teacher (n=8-9), parent (n=8-9), and participant (n=9) questionnaire ratings revealed substantially less listening difficulty when RM technology was used compared to the no-device ratings. On the behavioral measures, individual data revealed varied findings, which will be discussed in detail in the results section. However, on average, the use of the RM technology resulted in improvements in speech recognition in noise (4.6dB improvement) in eight children, higher auditory working memory and comprehension scores (12-13 point improvement) in seven children, and acceptance of poorer signal-to-noise ratios (8.6dB improvement) in five children. The individual and group data from this study suggest that RM technology may improve auditory function in children with ASD in the classroom, at home, and in social situations. However, variability in the data and the inability of some children to complete the behavioral measures indicates that individualized assistive technology evaluations including functional questionnaires will be necessary to determine if the RM technology will be of benefit to a particular child who has ASD.

Keywords: Auditory processing dysfunction; Autism Spectrum Disorder; Noise; Remote-microphone technology; Speech recognition.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation / methods*
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / psychology
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / therapy*
  • Child
  • Hearing
  • Humans
  • Noise / adverse effects
  • Self-Help Devices / statistics & numerical data*
  • Speech Perception
  • Surveys and Questionnaires