Autism Spectrum Auditory Perception (ASAP)

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Date Posted

Research Study Description

We want to understand how minimally and low-verbal autistic children perceive speech sounds. Is speech perception related to their own speech production and expressive language abilities? We hypothesize that, if some children can’t hear the difference between similar-sounding words like “ball” and “doll”, maybe they can’t learn to pronounce words accurately and this interferes with their being able to learn spoken language.

We created a tablet-based video game to help us answer these questions, where children sort pictures into categories. It includes a purely visual version of the task as well as an auditory version, so that we can tell if children have auditory processing issues only or whether their challenges also extend to visual stimuli. We’re looking for 26 participants, between the ages of 5 and 12, to participate.

Inclusion criteria:
1. The main language of the child’s family (spoken >50% of the time) is English.
2. Child meets criteria for ASD on a gold-standard diagnostic instrument (can submit documentation of previous ADOS assessment).

Exclusion criteria:
1. Children with conditions that might explain their verbal status (e.g., known hearing impairment, Down syndrome) are not eligible.
2. Children with visual impairments who can’t see the visual stimuli in standardized tests or experimental tasks are not eligible.
3. If child is eligible for COVID-19 vaccine and has not received at least the first dose.

Prospective participants will be assessed in our lab in Charlestown with a variety of measures that document their speech, language, social, and nonverbal IQ skills. They will then be given the tablet game to play. The visits will be broken down into two 2-hour visits. All assessments and game play will be audio-and videotaped for later analysis.

During the visits, children’s parents will also be asked to complete a series of questionnaires that document demographics, developmental history, and current levels of community functioning. Parents will also be asked to participate in an hour-long interview either in person or by zoom, whichever is most convenient for the parent.

Families will receive $25 for completion of the assessments and an additional $50 once they have completed the whole study. We can also provide a summary report on request. Parking is paid for each visit to our Charlestown lab location. Please inquire about payment for Uber rides or about alternate assessment locations.

email :  [email protected]