Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Technology and autism spectrum disorders: Innovative techniques for early assessment and diagnosis

I recently came across two articles regarding the use of technology and video for early diagnosis of autism. The Wall Street Journal article, "New Ways to Diagnose Autism Earlier: Detection at Younger Ages Leads to Greater Gains in Language and IQ; Predicting Risk with Eye-Movement Sensors"
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The following research video, from Yale University, depicts an infant involved in an eye-tracking session:

The researchers at Yale's Autism Program work in an interdisciplinary environment, and focus on infants as young as three months, preschoolers, school-age children, and young adults.

According to the WSJ article, researchers from the Early Autism Study at McMaster Univerisity, in Canada, are engaged in similar research. They have developed a system that uses eye-movement sensors with babies as young as nine months of age.

Related research, involving the analysis of home videotapes, is currently underway through the MIT Media Lab's Human Speechome project.

A recent Orlando Sentinel article, "Is your baby autistic? UF researchers' book helps provide answers", reviews the work of Osnat and Philip Teitelbaum, of the University of Florida. The researchers analyzed movement patterns of a number of infants and young children from home videotapes. The children were later diagnosed with autism. According to this research, the movements of babies who developed autism were different than the movements of non-autistic children.

The use of video in autism research is not uncommon. For more information, see my previous post,
TECHNOLOGY FOR DATA COLLECTION, ANALYSIS, AND PROGRESS MONITORING. Scroll down to the section about the work of Gregory Abowd and his colleages at Georgia Tech.

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