In identifying the importance of early identification of hearing loss in children, very little attention has been given to how advanced FM technology may improve outcomes. Distance, noise and reverberation remain considerable challenges for individuals using hearing aids, more so in really young children. The aim of this present research was to evaluate and explore the benefits of advanced integrated FM amplification technology with pre-school hearing aided children. The research was of a longitudinal prospective design, including both quantitative and qualitative analysis of FM technology use in pre-school hearing aided participants. All participants were provided with the latest hearing aid and integrated FM amplification technology suited to their hearing loss.An initial study was conducted to validate the 'AutoConnect' feature on the FM technology provided to participants. The manufacturers of the 'AutoConnect' purport the feature removes the need for verifying FM technology 'transparency'. The results indicated the feature did work with the hearing aid and FM combinations used in this study. Three further studies were conducted. The first of these evaluated FM device use via daily diaries, datalogging and questionnaires. Five of the seven families were able to establish regular FM use in a range of environments and settings. The environments where the FM was used most frequently were the home, car, nursery, shopping and outdoors. Listening evaluation measures with FM technology demonstrated the greatest improvements were in noise and at distance. Parents rated the FM technology highly, with all parents reporting 5 out of 5 for 'easy to operate'. Significant improvements in language development were noticed for the three children whose language development was identified as 'at risk' at the start of the study.The second of the three studies qualitatively explored the views and experiences of parents and carers on their use of FM technology. Eight weekly diaries, seven completed by parents and one completed by pre-school nursery staff of one of the participants, were collected throughout the study period. Seven semi structured interviews were conducted with parents at the end of study participation. Altogether eight cases were included for analysis with seven including both diaries and interviews and one case including diary only. Thematic content analysis sought to acknowledge parents and carers as the experts and place them in the centre of knowledge generation. Six main themes were identified: access to speech, listening, communication, wellbeing, engagement/ownership and practicalities of FM use. More detailed sub-themes were generated under the main six headings. Overall the analysis highlighted the potential benefits, barriers and challenges to pre-school use of FM technology.The final study used the language environment analysis (LENA) system to compare differences in language environment with and without FM use. The findings indicated the language environment of the children in this study was comparable to their hearing peers. The acoustic environment results suggested the largest portion of children's day was spent in environments where speech was at a distance or in background noise.The thesis concludes by discussing the findings and implications of this study and highlighting areas for future research. The current study provides a unique contribution to the existing literature and together with future research can be integral to the provision of FM technology as standard for pre-school hearing aided children.
|Date of Award||31 Dec 2011|
- The University of Manchester
|Supervisor||Wendy Mccracken (Supervisor)|
- Hearing loss
- FM amplification technology