New application can help detect autism in children – Technology – Science and technology

, 05.05.2021 08:00

Illustration photo.

Researchers have developed a new application that can detect autism only using a mobile phone.

The application uses short films and view detection technology to determine whether children are looking at people or objects, which is a symptom of this disorder.

Although this technology is only in its infancy, the Duke University team believes it could be used on any smartphone or tablet.

“We know that babies with autism pay their attention to the environment differently and do not focus very much on people,” says study co-author Dr. Geraldine Dawson, director of the Center for Autism and Brain Development at Duke University in Durham, USA. “We can monitor the eyes of toddlers to assess the risk of autism. For the first time, we are only able to determine something like this using a smartphone or tablet. “

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Together with colleagues, including the lead author of the study, Dr. Dawson Zhuoqing Changa started developing this application a few years ago. However, in the latest version, the researchers designed the films to allow them to assess whether young children focus on objects rather than people.

In one of the movies you can see a cheerful woman playing with a toy spinning top. One half of the screen is dominated by a woman and the twisting toy is on the other half of the screen. From a study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics it follows that non-autism babies watched the entire screen during the video and focused more often on the woman. However, babies who were later diagnosed with autism more often focused on the part of the display with the toy. Another film was made in a similar way, and a man blew bubbles in it.

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It has used vision detection technology in people with autism before. In this case, however, it requires special equipment, other expertise and analysis. The application test takes less than 10 minutes, and a front camera, whether on a tablet or smartphone, is used to record the child’s behavior, making it easy to perform in primary care clinics and homes.

“It’s a technical success that has been in the pipeline for many years,” says Chang. “It required our research team to make films in such a way as to attract attention and measure its patterns using only a hand-held device. It’s amazing that we can evaluate the direction of the view without special equipment using a common device that many have in their pocket. “

To test the device, the study included 993 young children aged 16 to 38 months. The child was on average 21 months old, a period when autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is often identified. Forty children were diagnosed with ASD using gold standard diagnostic methods.

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According to Dawson, further studies are continuing with infants aged six months. These tests try to find out whether it is possible to identify differences in children who are later diagnosed with autism and nervous development disorders during the first year of life on the basis of the application.

“We hope that this technology will eventually provide better access to autism screening, which is a necessary first step in intervention,” Dawson added on the server.

Source: – Veda a technika by

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