IJERPH, Vol. 19, Pages 12474: The Use of Binaural Based Spatial Audio in the Reduction of Auditory Hypersensitivity in Autistic Young People (International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health)
Individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are characterised as experiencing impairments in social-emotional interaction and communication, alongside frequently displaying repetitive behaviours and interests. Further to this, they are often described as experiencing difficulties in processing sensory information, with particular prevalence within the auditory modality. Provoked by common environmental sounds, auditory hypersensitivity can result in self-regulatory fear responses. Rather than a physiological pain reaction, literature suggests that these hypersensitivities are resulting through irrational fear of the sounds. This investigation evaluates the use of binaural based spatial audio as a rendering technique for delivering realistic simulations of averse stimuli within a virtual reality (VR) exposure based computer game intervention for auditory hypersensitivity in autism. Over multiple experimental sessions, 20 autistic participants experiencing auditory hypersensitivity were exposed to either spatial audio or stereo renders of target stimuli during the intervention. Measurements of self-reported emotions displayed significant reductions in associated negative emotional reactions to target stimuli for all participants. However, significant improvements were experienced by those listening to spatial audio simulations. Moreover, tracked voluntary interactions with exposure based game-mechanics increased as the study progressed. Providing further evidence of increased tolerance towards averse auditory stimuli.