Early Detection of Autism Made Easier with New App
Early Detection App Screens for Autism in Children as Young as Two
Experts agree that early detection of autism is one of the most important factors for predicting a good outcome, or long-term success, for children with autism. A big challenge that parents and occupational therapists face is being able to detect the the condition early enough to provide the most effective autism therapies and treatments. For some children, signs of autism begin to manifest when they are around 3-years-old, but other children may not show signs of autism until later in life, after they have already begun to struggle in school.
Now, researchers are developing a promising new way to improve the odds of detection by using a mobile software application for iPhones, Androids and tablets. According to the New York Daily News, the app works by tracking eye movements that indicate signs of autism spectrum disorder and has been able to detect autism in children as young as two.
How the App Aids Early Detection of Autism
The new app is the brainchild of a research team at the University of Buffalo. Undergraduate student Kun Woo Cho co-authored the study with her research advisor, Dr. Wenyao Xu from the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
The app tracks the eye movements of young children as they look at social scenes. Children who are on the autism spectrum tend to have eye movements that rove all over the image, never quite able to focus on one area over another. Children who are not on the spectrum, by contrast, have much more focused eye movements. While the researchers are not quite sure why this is the case, they predict that children with autism are less able to determine the social relationship between the people in the image, and, therefore, less able to focus. Initial testing for the app was conducted on 32 students ages two to ten, but the researchers plan to widen the study to over 400 students in the near future.
The benefits of the app: It’s accurate, fast, and portable. Early reports show that the app has a 93.6% accuracy rate and can screen children for autism in less than a minute in the comfort of their own homes. More importantly, the app can detect early signs of autism a full year sooner than children begin to show signs of the disorder, and several years before children begin school—giving parents more time to prepare their child for success in school and in life.
“The beauty of the mobile app is that it can be used by parents at home to assess the risk of whether a child may have ASD,” Xu said in a statement. “This can allow families to seek therapy sooner, and improve the benefits of treatment.”
Of course, it’s never too late to help your child succeed and to pursue treatment for autism. If you are looking for a team to help your child overcome any of the anti-social, aggressive, or self-destructive behaviors associated with autism, call us at 864.834.8013 for a confidential consultation.
Based on this article.