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The Soundstorm auditory training programme for children with an auditory processing disorder: Efficacy and mechanism feasibility study.
Children with Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) (ICD-10: H93.25) have difficulties listening to speech in background noise (SiN) due to impaired sound processing in their brains and despite normal audiograms. APD affects 1%-5% of children with adverse psychosocial, educational sequelae and long term problems. APD risk factors include history of glue ear, and other neurological and developmental disorders. Auditory training (AT) aims to improve listening by capitalising on the brain’s “plasticity”. Plasticity involves structural and functional brain reorganisation in response to sensory input, characterised by the activation of inactive and/or the formation of more efficient neuronal connections, and is reflected on behavioural changes. It is debated whether AT for APD should be deficit driven (i.e. determined by test results) or complex, aimed at addressing different functional difficulties so that benefits transfer better to real life. 20% of APD children have a specific deficit in using binaural sound location cues to enhance their SiN hearing, i.e. a spatial processing disorder (SPD). Children with SPD improve SiN skills after 12 weeks of deficit specific AT with the commercially available Soundstorm programme. 11,12 We also observed benefits in APD children not tested for SPD, after 12 weeks of AT that included exercises similar to those in LiSN & Learn. This feasibility study aims to assess recruitment, retention and adherence rates and collect data that will inform a phase II trial, which will investigate efficacy and mechanism of benefits of the Soundstorm AT in improving SiN, related brain structure and overall performance in children with different subtypes of APD (SPD vs. non SPD).
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