App That Measures Facial Responses to Stimuli Could Help Determine Whether Your Child Has Autism
In 2000, just one in 150 children were diagnosed with autism. By 2010, that number had grown to one in 68, making it the fastest-growing development disorder. Even more alarming, that figure has continued to grow and will likely continue to grow in the future, with some experts suspecting that up to 25% of autism cases are still undiagnosed even today. The iPhone app Autism & Beyond, created by a medical team at Duke University, looks to help make this diagnosis easier for parents everywhere.
Traditionally, the screening process for autism is an elaborate process involving a team of physicians and psychologists trained specifically to recognize key signs of the condition. This is a time-consuming and costly experience for parents to receive peace of mind that their children fall within normal development parameters, or that they receive necessary treatment in the event autism is diagnosed. To make matters worse, there is often a lengthy waiting list when scheduling one of screenings — often months and, sometimes, even longer than a year.
With Autism & Beyond, parents can perform initial screenings for their children in their own homes with just an iPhone or iPad. The program measures a child’s facial reactions to a variety of stimuli, including lights and sounds. The child’s expressions are recorded using the device’s built-in camera, and evaluated to determine whether there is any indication of autism.
While this app is not meant to serve as a replacement for the official diagnosis, it can certainly allow parents to get a head start on scheduling a screening. Considering the importance of early diagnosis, this is a critical advantage.