Early Detection of Autism in Children Technique

Early Detection of Autism in Children

A current research has developed an early detection of autism in children technique to accurately and quickly check the spectrum disorder. According to the lead researcher Mehrshad Sadria, a master’s student in Waterloo’s Department of Applied Mathematics, many people are suffering from autism, hence the need for early diagnosis especially in children.
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Sadria said:
“Our method allows for the diagnosis to be made more easily and with less possibility of mistakes. The new technique can be used in all ASD diagnosis, but we believe it’s particularly effective for children.”
For the study, the researchers evaluated 17 children with ASD and 23 neuro-typical children. The mean chronological ages of the ASD and neuro-typical groups were 5.5 and 4.8, respectively.
Each partaker was shown 44 photographs of faces on a 19-inch screen, integrated into an eye-tracking system. The infrared device interpreted and identified the locations on the stimuli at which each child was looking via emission and reflection of waves from the iris.
The images were separated into seven key areas of interest (AOIs) in which participants fixed their gaze under the right eye, right eye, under the left eye, left eye, nose, mouth and other parts of the screen.
The research team did this to establish how much time the participants spent looking at each AOI, and also how they moved their eyes and scanned the faces.
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The scientists used four different concepts from network analysis to assess the varying degree of importance the children placed on the seven AOIs when exploring the facial features.
The first concept determined the number of other AOIs that the participant directly moves their eyes to and from a particular AOI.
The second concept examined how often a particular AOI is involved when the participant moves their eyes between two other AOIs as quickly as possible.
The third concept is linked to how rapidly one can move their eyes from a particular AOI to other AOIs
The fourth concept examined the importance of an AOI, in the setting of eye movement and face scanning, by the number of important AOIs that it shares direct transitions with.
“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,” said Anita Layton, professor of Applied Mathematics, Pharmacy and Biology at Waterloo.
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Layton explained that the method involved here is about how a child observes or looks at everything.
“The challenge many psychologists face is that sometimes behaviours deteriorate over time, so the child might not display signs of autism, but then a few years later, something starts showing up.”
The new study for early detection of autism in children technique was published in the journal Computers in Biology and Medicine.
Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels


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