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Prototype Mobile App Screens Children at Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder

Modern technology equipment for monitoring the health. Smartphone, smartwatch. Blue background.Set of colored flat icons

According to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health, a mobile app can distinguish toddlers with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) from typically developing toddlers based on their eye movements. They observe the toddlers while they are watching videos during their pediatric visit. This is because toddlers with ASD have distinctive eye-gaze patterns and reduced attention to social stimuli. They can also barely coordinate gaze with speech sounds.

The study found that the app deployed on an iPhone or iPad reliably measures both known and new gaze biomarkers that distinguished toddlers with ASD vs typical development. This method may have the potential for developing scalable autism screening tools. It can possibly apply to a natural environment and enable data sets compliant to machine learning.

The current study enrols 933 toddlers ages 16 to 38 months during a well-child primary care visit. Of these children, 40 were later diagnosed with ASD. They view on a mobile device short videos of people smiling and making eye contact or engaging in conversation.

Researchers record the children’s gaze patterns with the device’s camera and measure them using computer vision and machine learning analysis. Children with ASD were less likely than typically developing children to focus on social cues and visually track the conversations in the videos.

In the future, the mobile app can screen infants and toddlers for ASD and refer them for early intervention when chances for treatment success are greatest. However, equipment used for visual tracking is expensive and requires specially trained personnel, limiting its use outside of laboratory settings.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), autism affects an estimated 1 in 54 children in the United States today. During a study period of 2009-2017, about 1 in 6 (17%) children aged 3–17 years were diagnosed with a developmental disability, as reported by parents. These include autism, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, blindness, and cerebral palsy.

World Health Organisation (WHO) states that children with ASD have some degree of difficulty with social interaction and communication. Other characteristics are atypical patterns of activities and behaviours, such as difficulty with transition from one activity to another, a focus on details and unusual reactions to sensations. While studies have found that the average human brain is hard-wired for social cues, with a person’s gaze automatically focusing on social signals.

The abilities and needs of people with autism vary and can evolve over time. While some people with autism can live independently, others have severe disabilities and require life-long care and support. Autism often has an impact on education and employment opportunities. In addition, the demands on families providing care and support can be significant. Hence, individuals with ASD can utilise technology to better their lives.

Autism Speaks mention several ways technology can empower individuals with ASD. In communication, many apps and built-in features of these devices can help support individuals with ASD at all levels and abilities. One app for example could be geared toward a nonverbal child or adult, while another can help with social cues for an individual with strong verbal communication skills.

Visual schedules on tablets can be a great tool to help children complete tasks and work on skills like self-care and daily living. A visual schedule for a morning or evening routine can them learn to manage time well. Those who have more difficulty communicating can use technology to make their voices heard regarding decisions, which helps foster the self-advocacy skills that are so important as they age into adulthood.

Children with ASD can also use their iPad or their favourite game app as a reward for positive behaviour like the completion of a chore or a homework assignment. They can also use video modelling which is a method that involves teaching skills in a visual way

PARTNER

Qlik’s vision is a data-literate world, where everyone can use data and analytics to improve decision-making and solve their most challenging problems. A private company, Qlik offers real-time data integration and analytics solutions, powered by Qlik Cloud, to close the gaps between data, insights and action. By transforming data into Active Intelligence, businesses can drive better decisions, improve revenue and profitability, and optimize customer relationships. Qlik serves more than 38,000 active customers in over 100 countries.

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As a Titanium Black Partner of Dell Technologies, CTC Global Singapore boasts unparalleled access to resources.

Established in 1972, we bring 52 years of experience to the table, solidifying our position as a leading IT solutions provider in Singapore. With over 300 qualified IT professionals, we are dedicated to delivering integrated solutions that empower your organization in key areas such as Automation & AI, Cyber Security, App Modernization & Data Analytics, Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure, Workplace Modernization and Professional Services.

Renowned for our consulting expertise and delivering expert IT solutions, CTC Global Singapore has become the preferred IT outsourcing partner for businesses across Singapore.

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Planview has one mission: to build the future of connected work. Our solutions enable organizations to connect the business from ideas to impact, empowering companies to accelerate the achievement of what matters most. Planview’s full spectrum of Portfolio Management and Work Management solutions creates an organizational focus on the strategic outcomes that matter and empowers teams to deliver their best work, no matter how they work. The comprehensive Planview platform and enterprise success model enables customers to deliver innovative, competitive products, services, and customer experiences. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, with locations around the world, Planview has more than 1,300 employees supporting 4,500 customers and 2.6 million users worldwide. For more information, visit www.planview.com.

SUPPORTING ORGANISATION

SIRIM is a premier industrial research and technology organisation in Malaysia, wholly-owned by the Minister​ of Finance Incorporated. With over forty years of experience and expertise, SIRIM is mandated as the machinery for research and technology development, and the national champion of quality. SIRIM has always played a major role in the development of the country’s private sector. By tapping into our expertise and knowledge base, we focus on developing new technologies and improvements in the manufacturing, technology and services sectors. We nurture Small Medium Enterprises (SME) growth with solutions for technology penetration and upgrading, making it an ideal technology partner for SMEs.

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HashiCorp provides infrastructure automation software for multi-cloud environments, enabling enterprises to unlock a common cloud operating model to provision, secure, connect, and run any application on any infrastructure. HashiCorp tools allow organizations to deliver applications faster by helping enterprises transition from manual processes and ITIL practices to self-service automation and DevOps practices. 

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IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and business services provider. We help clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,000 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently and securely. IBM’s breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM’s legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity and service.