Researchers develop new app that can detect autism signs in kids

Last Updated: May 23, 2014, 21:58 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau

New York: Now, researchers from the US have developed a new app that can help detect the early signs of autism in kids.

The software, developed by researchers at Duke University, works by tracking and recording infants’ activity during filmed autism screening tests.

According to the researchers, the software is also more accurate than medics who are not autism experts and better than medical students.

“The software has the potential to automatically analyse a child's eye gaze, walking patterns or motor behaviours for signs that are distinct from typical development," said the app's developer Amy Esler, an assistant professor of pediatrics at University of Minnesota in the US.

These signs would signal to doctors that they need to refer a family to a specialist for a more detailed evaluation, Esler added.

The study focused on three behavioural tests that can help identify autism in very young children.

In one test, an infant’s attention is drawn to a toy being shaken on the left side and then redirected to a toy being shaken on the right side.

Clinicians count how long it takes for the child’s attention to shift in response to the changing stimulus.

In all of the tests, the person administering them not only controls the stimulus, he or she also counts how long it takes for the child to react.

The new programme allows testers to forget about taking measurements while also providing more accuracy, recording reaction times down to tenths of a second.

The results appeared in the journal Autism Research and Treatment.

Researchers believe the technology could eventually be placed in schools as a way of screening children for autism.

With Agency Inputs