Mobile app for autism screening yields useful data: Pilot study finds app easy to use, liked by parents - (ScienceDaily via NewsPoints Desk)

  • A study published in the journal npj Digital Medicine suggests that an iPhone app to screen young children for signs of autism is easy to use, welcomed by caregivers and good at producing reliable scientific data, ScienceDaily reported Monday.

  • The app, which is based on Apple's ResearchKit open source development platform, administers survey questions and then uses the phone's camera to collect videos of young children's reactions while they watch movies designed to elicit autism risk behaviours on the device's screen.

  • In the 12-month study, which included 1756 families with children aged one year to six years, parents completed 5618 surveys and uploaded 4441 videos.

  • The uploaded videos were sent to the study's servers, where automatic behavioural coding software tracked the movement of video landmarks on the child's face and quantified the child's emotions and attention.

  • Usable data were collected on 88 percent of the videos, which the researchers said shows the feasibility of this type of tool for observing and coding behaviour in natural environments.

  • Guillermo Sapiro, co-leader of the study, noted that "this technology has the potential to transform how we screen and monitor children's development."

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