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Profile of children with listening difficulties (Magimairaj et al., 2020)

journal contribution
posted on 2020-08-18, 21:44 authored by Beula M. Magimairaj, Naveen K. Nagaraj, Alexander V. Sergeev, Natalie J. Benafield
Objectives: School-age children with and without parent-reported listening difficulties (LiD) were compared on auditory processing, language, memory, and attention abilities. The objective was to extend what is known so far in the literature about children with LiD by using multiple measures and selective novel measures across the above areas.
Design: Twenty-six children who were reported by their parents as having LiD and 26 age-matched typically developing children completed clinical tests of auditory processing and multiple measures of language, attention, and memory. All children had normal-range pure-tone hearing thresholds bilaterally. Group differences were examined.
Results: In addition to significantly poorer speech-perception-in-noise scores, children with LiD had reduced speed and accuracy of word retrieval from long-term memory, poorer short-term memory, sentence recall, and inferencing ability. Statistically significant group differences were of moderate effect size; however, standard test scores of children with LiD were not clinically poor. No statistically significant group differences were observed in attention, working memory capacity, vocabulary, and nonverbal IQ.
Conclusions: Mild signal-to-noise ratio loss, as reflected by the group mean of children with LiD, supported the children’s functional listening problems. In addition, children’s relative weakness in select areas of language performance, short-term memory, and long-term memory lexical retrieval speed and accuracy added to previous research on evidence-based areas that need to be evaluated in children with LiD who almost always have heterogenous profiles. Importantly, the functional difficulties faced by children with LiD in relation to their test results indicated, to some extent, that commonly used assessments may not be adequately capturing the children’s listening challenges.

Supplemental Material S1. Correlation table for concern.

Supplemental Material S2. Correlation table for no concern.

Supplemental Material S3. Developmental questionnaire.

Magimairaj, B. M., Nagaraj, N. K., Sergeev, A. V., & Benafield, N. J. (2020). Comparison of auditory, language, memory, and attention abilities in children with and without listening difficulties. American Journal of Audiology. Advance online publication.


The Hearing Health Foundation’s Emerging Research Grant to the authors supported this work.