Speech Processing to Improve the Perception of Speech in Background Noise for Children With Auditory Processing Disorder and Typically Developing Peers.

02 Mar 2018

Auditory processing disorder (APD) may be diagnosed when a child has listening difficulties but has normal audiometric thresholds. For adults with normal hearing and with mild-to-moderate hearing impairment, an algorithm called spectral shaping with dynamic range compression (SSDRC) has been shown to increase the intelligibility of speech when background noise is added after the processing. Here, we assessed the effect of such processing using 8 children with APD and 10 age-matched control children. The loudness of the processed and unprocessed sentences was matched using a loudness model. The task was to repeat back sentences produced by a female speaker when presented with either speech-shaped noise (SSN) or a male competing speaker (CS) at two signal-to-background ratios (SBRs). Speech identification was significantly better with SSDRC processing than without, for both groups. The benefit of SSDRC processing was greater for the SSN than for the CS background. For the SSN, scores were similar for the two groups at both SBRs. For the CS, the APD group performed significantly more poorly than the control group. The overall improvement produced by SSDRC processing could be useful for enhancing communication in a classroom where the teacher's voice is broadcast using a wireless system.