Measuring The Intelligibility of the PAAST Words in Quiet

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Early identification of paediatric hearing loss is crucial to avoid speech, language, academic, and psychosocial developmental delay. There are several methods used to evaluate children’s hearing thresholds, including pure tone audiometry (PTA) and speech perception audiometry. Pure tone audiometry depends on a person’s responses to pure tones, and it requires cooperation to proceed with the test procedure. However, children between the age of 2.5 and 5 years old have a short attention span and might not be able to cooperate with this test. On the other hand, speech perception audiometry present speech as its stimuli, which is a better representation of reality compared to pure tones. Thus, PTA might not be the best tool to identify paediatric speech perception difficulties. However, speech perception testing for children below the age of five years is rarely used in the Arab world nowadays, and there is a lack of available Arabic-language speech perception tests in quiet. This study contributes to the development of Paediatric Arabic Auditory Speech Test by ensuring that the 14 words proposed are equally intelligibly in quiet as it is in noise when conducting the test on 3 age groups (adults, older children, and young children). Having equally intelligible words in the adaptive procedure of a speech in a quiet test is required for accurately estimating hearing thresholds. Three age groups have been recruited for this study. Thirty-five adults (aged 18-35), 35 older children (aged 7-12), and 35 young children (aged 3-5 years). All participant (105 in total) were Arabic speakers and otologically normal. The testing has been conducted in two sessions with a break between the sessions. In the first session, eight words were presented (/bab/, /nas/, /fil/, /dik/, /bet/, /ʕen/, /θɔb/, /mɔz/), and six words were presented in the second session (/θɔb/, /mɔz/, /dub/, /ɽuz/, /wʌɽd/, /kʌlb/, /dud/, /nuɽ/). The participants had to identify the target word each time it’s presented. An interleaved-track adaptive procedure method was used to follow the change in participants’ performance and to track their improvements. The Systematic variations were investigated to determine if there were any statistically significant differences between the groups. And it was found between the adults group and the older children group (p<0.5), and between the adults group and the young children group (p<0.5), but there were no statistically significant differences between the older children group and the young children group (p>0.5). The 95% confidence interval for adults and older children were between -2.20 to -1.0 dB, for older children and young children it was between -1.4 to 0.45 dB, and for adults and young children, it was between -3.0 to -1.1 dB. Heterogeneity was detected between the 14 words, but because there was no evidence of interaction between words and age group, the suggested level of adjustment for words was the same for all the three groups.