Philippa James is a paediatric Audiologist who works with school-aged children with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Philippa’s clinic assesses and manages children’s hearing and everyday listening skills in a relaxed and friendly setting. Philippa is usually based at the department of Audiology & Speech Pathology at The University of Melbourne, but has just begun working at Mullum Road Clinic in Croydon on Fridays.
Audiology and Autism:
Functional listening challenges (auditory processing difficulties), which are often linked to language, reading and attention difficulties, are common in children with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
Auditory processing skills in children with ASD can range from completely normal to substantially defective, but overall are poorer compared to typically developing children. Many research studies demonstrate a wide range of listening difficulties in children with ASD. Studies have found that children with ASD find it particularly difficult to process and understand speech in noisy environments like classrooms and parties. They are often unresponsive, and they struggle to pay attention to auditory stimuli such as the teacher’s voice.
Auditory processing difficulties are thought to contribute to academic underachievement in children with ASD, and may aggravate other challenges with inattention, hyperactivity, oppositional behaviour, anxiety and abnormal tolerance for sound/busy, stimulating environments.
How does the clinic work?
The clinic offers a thorough assessment of your child’s hearing and auditory processing skills. Depending on your child’s pattern of results and presenting concerns, management options are suggested. There is a social story video on the clinic’s website to help children prepare for their appointment: www.autism.phonak.com.au
The most common management strategies recommended to children with identified listening difficulties are computer-based auditory training programs and/or a six-week trial of remote microphone technology in educational and social settings. The clinic offers free trials of remote microphone systems that are an evidence-based, therapeutic tool to help children improve their listening skills. For families who would like to continue using the remote microphone technology, Philippa will support them in applying for funding through HCWA and/or NDIS, is applicable.
If your child is not able to participate in testing, you are still able to book an appointment and potentially trial the Phonak Roger technology.
Feedback from parents:
Parents and caregivers of children with ASD have shown great interest in having their children assessed for listening skills. Additionally, they are relieved to have practical management options provided.
Children and their families who have trialed remote microphone technology have generally shown great enthusiasm for the technology.
Common ways in which the technology is reported to be helping children includes:
- Better understanding of instructions
- Improved responsiveness and participation in class
- Improved attention span and focus in class
- Better behaviour at school and home settings
- Improved awareness and safety around busy roads
‘My name is Lilly and I am in Grade 2. I think it is a great device because when I don’t have it, I can’t hear what the teacher is saying over all the loud noises in the class. I like how it goes in your ears really quick and they are really easy to put in, and I think they are amazingly helpful’