Thursday February 21, 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

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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

Study Reveals Autistic Children Likely To Face Maltreatment

The study, published is the journal Autism, found that children with ASD were nearly 2.5 times more likely to be reported to the Child Abuse Hotline by the age of 8.

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They found more than 17 per cent of those identified with ASD had been reported to the Child Abuse Hotline, compared with 7.4 per cent of children without ASD. Pixabay

Parents, take note. If your child is suffering from autism spectrum disorder (ASD) then you have to be more cautious, as a new study has suggested they are more likely to face maltreatment than normal children.

The study, published is the journal Autism, found that children with ASD were nearly 2.5 times more likely to be reported to the Child Abuse Hotline by the age of 8.

“This represents a very vulnerable population, and we have responsibility to work with mandated reporters, service providers, school systems and those who respond to these allegations, to make sure they’re equipped with all the tools necessary to meet the complex needs of these children,” said co-author Zachary Warren from the Vanderbilt University, the USA.

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Additionally, girls with ASD were six times more likely to have substantiated allegations of maltreatment than males with ASD, the team suggested.
Pixabay

For the study, the researchers examined 24,306 children, out of which 387 were diagnosed for autism, for eight years.

They found more than 17 per cent of those identified with ASD had been reported to the Child Abuse Hotline, compared with 7.4 per cent of children without ASD.

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Additionally, girls with ASD were six times more likely to have substantiated allegations of maltreatment than males with ASD, the team suggested.

“There are a lot of things we still don’t know. But I think this study highlights the need to start examining those factors to better equip reporters and those who are responding to those reports,” Warren noted. (IANS)