NHBRU and IHR in Nottingham, PhD in Experimental Psychology

Development of questionnaire-based assessment of listening difficulties in children

with Dr Johanna Barry and Mrs Melanie Ferguson
johanna@ihr.mrc.ac.uk, melanie.ferguson@nottingham.ac.uk

Some children find it difficult to understand speech in noisy environments despite performing normally on standard tests of hearing function. Such children are thought to be affected by what has been termed “auditory processing disorder” (APD). The exact definition of APD, however, as well as the criteria for its diagnosis, remain controversial (Moore, 2012). The aim of the current project is to develop a questionnaire for assessing APD-related symptoms in children before the start of school education.

There is currently no reliable test for APD (Dawes & Bishop, 2009). Previously, we have argued that, in the absence of such a test, it is important to focus on the presenting symptoms of the child. Some children with APD also have difficulties with memory, attention, reading and other language tasks. We have recently developed a psychometrically robust questionnaire for assessing these difficulties. This questionnaire was developed for children aged between 6-12 years. However, by this age, the affected child may already have fallen behind at school, and any interventions to improve his/her listening skills may have become less likely to be successful. This is why, in this project, we want to develop a questionnaire to assess APD-related symptoms in children aged between only 3-6 years, i.e., before, or around, the start of school education.

We welcome application from graduates with a first- or upper second-class degree in a relevant discipline, such as (paediatric) audiology, psychology or speech and language therapy.

Dawes P & Bishop DVM (2009). Auditory processing disorder in relation to developmental disorders of language, communication and attention: a review and critique. Int J Lang Commun Disord 44, 440-465.

Moore DR (2012). Listening difficulties in children: Bottom-up and top-down contributions. J Commun Disord, 45, 411-418.