Improved technique developed for detecting Autism in Children
A better way to detect Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in children has been recently discovered by researchers. The technique considers how a child with ASD gazes at transitions from one part of a person’s face to another.
ASD Assessment includes a medical and neurological examination that can be an in-depth questionnaire about the child’s family history, behavior and development or an evaluation from a psychologist. A master’s student in Waterloo’s Department of Applied Mathematics, Mehrshad Sadria, stated that “Many people are suffering from autism, and we need early diagnosis especially in children,” The student affirms that the existing approaches of determining autism are not children friendly. The new method makes diagnosis easier and reduces the possibility of mistakes.
The researchers evaluated 17 children with ASD and 23 neuro-typical children while developing the new technique. The mean chronological ages of the ASD and neuro-typical groups were 5.5 and 4.8 respectively.
44 photographs of faces on a 19-inch screen were shown to each participant that were integrated into an eye-tracking system. The infrared device interpreted and identified the locations on the stimuli at which each child was looking through emission and reflection of wave from the iris.
The participants were forced to focus their gaze on images that were separated into seven key areas of interest (AOIs) including right eye, under the right eye, left eye, under the left eye, nose, mouth and other parts of the screen.
Anita Layton, who supervises Sadria and is a professor of Applied Mathematics, Pharmacy and Biology at Waterloo affirmed that it is much easier for children to just look at something, like the animated face of a dog, than to fill out a questionnaire or be evaluated by a psychologist. Further, the challenge many psychologists face is that sometimes behaviors deteriorate over time, so the child might not display signs of autism, but then a few years later, something starts showing up.