New York — A team of researchers from Duke are hoping to revolutionize how autism is diagnosed in young children through an iPhone app called ‘Autism & Beyond’.
The researchers are working closely with Apple in hopes of improving how autism is diagnosed in children today.
Due to the surge of the number of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), families caring for children who are later on diagnosed with the developmental condition often need to wait for a year or so for a clinician to see the children and provide diagnosis.
Since early intervention is said to be vital in helping children with ASD reach their full potential, many are feared to have missed out on the opportunity to start treatment early due to the incredibly long waiting time to see a diagnostician.
The researchers at Duke hope to change this through ‘Autism & Beyond,’ which aims to make diagnosis far easier and a lot faster for both the children with ASD as well as the clinicians.
In a statement, one of the researchers, Engineering Professor Guillermo Sapiro, told:
“Our goal is to develop a screening, like hearing or eyesight at schools. They don’t get glasses; they get a referral.”
The app uses built-in camera features on both iPhones and iPads to analyze the facial expressions of a child as a 20-minute video plays on the gadget. The microreactions of the child to the video being played is gauged and analyzed if there is a potential risk of autism. Children in risk are then referred to see a clinician.
The researchers are hoping that this revolutionary way of scanning children for manifestations of autism can expedite diagnosis and treatment in children with ASD.
Researcher, Pediatrician and Mobile Technology Strategy Head for Duke Medical Center Ricky Bloomfield told:
“We are not going to cure autism… But we can help put the structure in place to help manage it and move [treatment] forward. And that’s why we’re all so passionate about this.”
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