Detect Autism Easily with This New App

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
May 26, 2014

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If your child is three years old and has not started talking yet, or is not acting like other children of the same age, he/she may be autistic. And now, scientists have developed an app that can detect early signs of autism. This detection can lead to early intervention that may significantly impact the development of autism syndrome (Autism Syndrome).

signs of autismAutism is a medical condition that makes communication difficult precisely because different areas of the brain fail to work together in this medical condition. The symptoms of autism start to develop before a child is three years old.

‘The software has the potential to automatically analyse a child’s eye gaze, walking patterns or motor behaviours for signs that are distinct from typical development,’ said the app’s developer Amy Esler, an assistant professor of paediatrics at University of Minnesota in the US.

These signs would signal to doctors that they need to refer a family to a specialist for a more detailed evaluation, Esler added.

The programme can immediately be used in homes and clinics given it non-invasive nature. The study focused on three behavioural tests that can help identify autism in very young children.

In one test, an infant’s attention is drawn to a toy being shaken on the left side and then redirected to a toy being shaken on the right side.

Clinicians count how long it takes for the child’s attention to shift in response to the changing stimulus.

In all of the tests, the person administering them not only controls the stimulus, he or she is also counts how long it takes for the child to react.

The new programme allows testers to forget about taking measurements while also providing more accuracy, recording reaction times down to tenths of a second.

The results appeared in the journal Autism Research and Treatment.

Early Signs of Autism

Impaired Reciprocal Social Interaction
Children with autism have problems or difficulty with social interactions like;

  • Difficulty or problem with non-verbal communication such as through hand gestures, eye contact, and facial expressions.
  • Difficulty in making friends with peers .
  • Remains aloof and prefers to play alone.
  • Does not share experiences or emotions with other people (such as parents, family, caregiver). For instance they will not tell about achievements or talk about his interests. Early-developing social skill plays an important part in language and social development.
  • Does not seem to care about others feelings rather seems to be unaware of others feelings and the expression of emotions, such as pleasure (laughing) or distress (crying).
  • Does not like to cuddle or be cuddled.
  • Does not respond to verbal cues.

Impaired Communication
Autism affects communication and the child may show communication problems such as;

  • Delay or total lack of spoken language or speech.
  • Some children who talk may have rich vocabularies and can talk about some specific subjects in great detail, but may fail to understand meaning of simple words and sentences.
  • May have difficulty in using the words correctly and forming sentences while communicating/talking with other people.
  • May say sentences or words with no meaning or that are out of context in conversations with others.
  • May speak in a monotonous tone devoid of any expression, or high-pitched or singsong voice.
  • May repeat the sentence or word that he hears (known as echolalia) but may not understand the meaning and how to use them.
  • Has difficulty expressing needs and desires both verbally and nonverbally (such as through hand gestures, eye contact, and facial expressions).
  • Can’t start a conversation or cannot keep one going.
  • Unable to play make-believe or doesn't try to mimic behaviour of adults when playing.

Restricted Repertoire of Interests, Behaviours, and Activities
These children have pattern of repetitive behaviour with narrow, restricted interests and behavioural problems such as;

  • May show interest in certain objects or specific topics with an abnormal intensity or focus.
  • Does repetitive movements, such as rocking, spinning, or hand-flapping and/or abnormal posture (toe walking).
  • Insists on following routines and sameness and does not like changes in routines or rituals becomes disturbed at the slightest change in them.
  • Sustained odd way of playing.
  • Obsession with parts of objects or interested in repetitive movement (spinning wheels, turning on and off lights).
  • Stubborn and has bad temper tantrums.

Source:  Health Site

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