Study Title: Innovative Auditory Processing Training Model to Enhance Communication in Children with ASD

Summary: The purpose of this research study is to examine the potential benefit of completing a training program along with the use of a small hearing device over a 12-week period. Participants that have been diagnosed with autism will be asked to complete three, two-day test sessions (approximately 3 hours each day) that are 12 weeks apart as well as 12 weeks of training and daily use of the small hearing device.


Location: The study will be conducted at the UNT Speech and Hearing Center, 907 West Sycamore, Denton, TX 76201. It is located at the corner of Bernard St. and West Sycamore St.  You may park in visitor parking adjacent to the building and will need to get a parking pass from Kathy Shelby at the front desk when you arrive. Research assistants will pick your child up from the waiting room upon arrival to begin testing and/or training.


Test Sessions: Participants will be asked to complete three, two-day test sessions that are approximately 3 hours each day. Test sessions are scheduled 12 weeks apart. On one day of testing, participants are asked to complete tests of listening ability that include a hearing test where they raise their hand when they hear a beep, speech testing where they will repeat what they hear or answer questions, and loudness testing where we ask them to tell us where speech is comfortable in background noise. Some of these tests are done with headphones on. On the other day of testing, participants will sit in a comfortable chair and watch a video with no sound. Sticky electrodes will be placed on their head, and soft insert earphones will be put in their ears that present sounds. This test measures their brain’s response to sound. Parents or guardians will be asked to complete a hearing history form, hearing questionnaires, and records release form (~20 minutes), or older participants will complete these forms. At the completion of the study, we will provide the parent/guardian/participant with a summary of the participant’s performance across the three test sessions. 


Training Program:
Participants will be assigned randomly to Group A or Group B. Group A begins training after the first test sessions, and Group B begins training after the second test session. The auditory training program is done three times a week for 12 weeks. Each day of training is approximately one hour.  For 30 minutes of the training, participants will wear headphones and repeat words and sentences that they hear. For the second 30 minutes of training, participants will work one-on-one with a clinician to complete listening training (repeating words and sentences and answering questions) while some background noise is coming through a small speaker. The purpose of this training is to practice listening in noisy environments.


Hearing Device: During the 12-week training period participants will be asked to use a small hearing device at home and at school. This device is designed to send speech from the primary talker (i.e., a parent, friend, or the teacher) directly to the listener’s ear. The primary talker uses a transmitter (Roger Pen) while the student wears two small receivers (Roger Focus), one in each ear. This device is designed for individuals with normal hearing, so it will not be too loud, and it will not block natural sound from entering the ear. It can be used at home and at school, and in our past research studies, many teachers and parents report that it really helps in the classroom, particularly in noisy situations. Please let us know if you want a copy of these previous studies: Below is a link where you can see a picture of the device and read more about it:


Payment: Participants are paid $20 after each of the three, two-day test sessions as well as $20 for each week of the study for a total of $300.  We will have the participant or parent/guardian sign a form each time the participant receives $20. The training and testing that the participant will receive has a monetary value of at least $2000.


Scheduling & Questions: We will do our best to schedule the participant for training and testing at your earliest convenience, but we are limited in our hours due to our department teaching/class schedules, as all research assistants are full-time graduate and doctoral students. We are able to schedule some participants on weekends if needed. If you have to cancel one or more dates of your training, we will need to reschedule those training sessions. You may contact our schedulers at You may also send any questions you have to, or contact Dr. Erin Schafer directly at (940) 369-7433 or


Foreseeable Risks: The tests and training used in this study are performed routinely, and the risks are minimal and uncommon. The foam insert earphones used for hearing tests could cause minor irritation in you or your child’s ear canal. Additionally, when conducting the testing with the electrodes, the scalp is cleaned prior to placing the sticky electrodes on the head. The mild cleaner or the sticky electrodes could cause some minor skin irritation. 


Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. Can my child do other therapies during the study or during the waiting period?
    • Yes.  Please notify us of these additional therapies, so we may document this information on your case history form.
    • The hearing device is also encouraged to be used during other therapies.
  2. What if my/my child’s school/teacher(s) will not allow the hearing device to be used?
    • Please contact Dr. Erin Schafer for helpful tips and additional resources to help you or your child be provided the appropriate education environment.
  3. What if the participant loses/breaks the Roger Focus or Roger Pen?
    • We ask that these expensive devices be handled with excellent care, but understand that mistakes happen. Please contact us as soon as possible.