A Computer Algorithm Allows Researchers to Screen for Earlier Autism Diagnoses

Researchers from Duke University have found a way to test for autism at a younger age using computer vision algorithms.
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Researchers from Duke University have found a way to test for autism at a younger age using computer vision algorithms.
autism algorithm

Photo Credit: Duke University

Researchers have found a way to test for autism at a earlier age. The average age for autism diagnoses is 5 years old; however, there are behavior markers shown in babies. Duke University researchers have begun to use computer vision algorithms to diagnose autism at an earlier age, and even want to make the technology available for parents to screen their children at home.

The algorithm, which researchers are working to make into an app, screens for autism by tracking eye movements, the incline of the head, and children's interactions with toys. The algorithm then gives a score of pass, delay or stuck. It can also compare children who have been seen by different clinicians as well as a tool that increases the size of the data set when testing new treatments and therapies. 

The associated app would resemble a mobile game and use the same algorithms through the device's camera. Check out the video below to see the autism screening in action. The computer tracking has been overlaid on top of footage of the clinician, child and parent. It has been downsampled and blurred for anonymity.