Friday November 15, 2019

Study: iPhone App Effective for Screening Toddlers With Autism

An app-based approach can reach into underserved areas better and make it much easier to track an individual child's changes over time

0
//
Study: iPhone App Effective for Screening Toddlers With Autism
Study: iPhone App Effective for Screening Toddlers With Autism. Pixabay

An iPhone app has shown to be effective and easy to use for screening young children with signs of autism, paving the way to broader, easier access to screening other neurodevelopmental disorders, according to researchers.

The “Autism & Beyond” app first administers caregiver consent forms and survey questions and then uses the phone’s “selfie” camera to collect videos of young children’s reactions while they watch movies designed to elicit autism risk behaviours, such as patterns of emotion and attention, on the device’s screen.

The videos of the child’s reactions are sent to the study’s servers, where automatic behavioural coding software tracks the movement of video landmarks on the child’s face and quantifies the child’s emotions and attention.

For example, in response to a short movie of bubbles floating across the screen, the video coding algorithm looks for movements of the face that would indicate joy.

An app-based approach can reach into underserved areas better and make it much easier to track an individual child’s changes over time, said Guillermo Sapiro, professor at Duke University in North Carolina.

Representational image.
Representational image. (IANS)

The app, described in journal npj Digital Medicine, can analyse emotional reactions in children as young as 18 months and without having to see a specialist in person, allowing for earlier diagnosis and treatment.

Current screening for autism in young children is done in clinical settings, rather than the child’s natural environment, and highly trained people are needed to both administer the test and analyse the results.

But, “this technology has the potential to transform how we screen and monitor children’s development”, Sapiro said.

Also Read: Apple Approves Telegram App Update

For the study, 1,756 families with children aged from one to six years participated.

Parents completed 5,618 surveys and uploaded 4,441 videos.

Usable data were collected on 88 per cent of the uploaded videos, demonstrating for the first time the feasibility of this type of tool for observing and coding behaviour in natural environments. (IANS)

Next Story

Research Shows that People with Genetic Autism are Likely to Report Self-Harm Thoughts

For the study, the research team calculated the genetic likelihood for autism in 100,000 individuals from the UK Biobank Study

0
Autism
Those with the highest genetic predisposition to Autism on an average have 28 per cent increase in childhood maltreatment and a 33 per cent increase in self-harm and suicidal ideation compared to those with the lowest genetic predisposition to Autism. Pixabay

People with a higher genetic likelihood of autism are more likely to report higher childhood maltreatment, self-harm and suicidal thoughts, according to a new study by an Indian-origin researcher.

The study, published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, shows that the findings hold true even for those with a higher genetic likelihood of autism rather than a formal diagnosis.

Previous studies from the University of Cambridge established that autistic individuals experience higher levels of self-harm, including suicidal thoughts and feelings, and higher rates of childhood maltreatment.

“This new study extends our earlier work by showing that individuals who carry more of the genes associated with autism have higher risks for maltreatment and self-harm,” said study researcher Simon Baron-Cohen, Professor at University of Cambridge.

“Our work highlighting unacceptably higher rates of suicide in autistic people was published 5 years ago, yet almost no new support has been provided,” Baron-Cohen added.

For the study, the research team calculated the genetic likelihood for autism in 100,000 individuals from the UK Biobank Study who had their DNA analysed and had also provided self-reported information about childhood maltreatment, suicidal ideation and self-harm.

Those with the highest genetic predisposition to autism on an average have 28 per cent increase in childhood maltreatment and a 33 per cent increase in self-harm and suicidal ideation compared to those with the lowest genetic predisposition to autism.

Autism
This new study extends our earlier work by showing that individuals who carry more of the genes associated with Autism have higher risks for maltreatment and self-harm. Pixabay

“While we have found an association between a genetic likelihood for autism and adverse life events, we cannot conclude the former causes the latter,” said study lead author and Indian-origin researcher Varun Warrier.

“We suspect this association reflects that genes partly influence how many autistic traits you have, and some autistic traits such as difficulties in social understanding may lead to a person to be vulnerable to maltreatment, Warrier added.

ALSO READ: Activists Gather along to Demand Cleaning of River Yamuna

This research highlights the risks of such adverse outcomes for those with a high number of autistic traits, if adequate safeguarding and support aren’t provided. (IANS)