Administering the Auditory Comprehension Test to a group of learning disabled subjects
Maclean, David A.
Master of Arts
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This study attempted to replicate the finding by Green and Josey (1988) in some groups of learning disabled children of better comprehension of spoken language in one single ear (monaural condition) than in both ears together (binaural condition). The Auditory Comprehension Test (ACT) which is designed specifically to measure this "binaural deficit" was administered to 36 learning disabled children, from which a subgroup of learning disabled subjects judged by teachers to have prominent difficulty comprehending everyday speech was later selected, and a control group of 36 non-learning disabled children individually matched for age, sex, and IQ with the learning disabled children. The ACT involves presenting short news item-style stories via headphones to either ear alone, or both ears simultaneously. After each story the subject repeats as much of the story as s/he can remember. The resulting three scores (left ear, right ear, and both ears simultaneously) are compared to determine if listening with either single ear produces better comprehension than listening with both ears together (i.e. to see if a binaural deficit exists). Comparisons between the control and learning disabled groups revealed significant differences in the direction of (1) higher average test scores for the control group, and (2) higher overall binaural deficits for the learning disabled group, as well as a larger number of subjects in the learning disabled group having a binaural deficit. The control group also performed significantly poorer in the binaural condition than in either single ear alone, indicating a possible bias in the ACT itself, and/or a possible selection bias. The test bias points to the need for revisions to the ACT in its application to children.