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New app aims to help identify signs of autism early

A new app developed by a group of Duke researchers will help identify symptoms of autism in children at a young age. The app can be installed in computers, tablets or even mobile phones. A set of movies have also been made by researchers through which the child's facial expressions can be analysed. Parents and experts are hopeful that the app will be introduced in India very soon.

Early diagnosis and intervention can help a child with autism in many ways, especially in helping them to become independent at a young age. Hence, it is important for parents to identify symptoms of a developmental disorder at the earliest in order to ensure that their child gets the best therapies and special education. A new app created by a group of Duke Researchers are all set to enter the market, and it claims to help in early diagnosis and intervention at a young age. Experts and parents from India are equally thrilled for this new new app.

The app will screen facial expressions and responses of the child. This information will then be analysed by the app to identify symptoms of autism. Reportedly, makers of the app has created a set of movies for this which can be played from computer screens, tablets or even phones. The data that is received from the app will then be connected to a set of algorithms. Usually, parents who take their child for a visit to the paediatrician are given a questionnaire that needs to be answered. But parents do not fully approve of this method.

Madhura Tendulkar, who has a ten year old son with autism says that the new app is definitely worth a try.

I feel this app is going to be of help to a lot of parents. Sometimes, the method of answering questionnaire cannot be accurate because parents gets confused by certain questions. Answers can also vary, and hence it is not fully reliable. If this app has all the scientific approaches, then it will be helpful to give out an accurate diagnosis at an early stage. I believe early interventions and diagnosis is very important-Madhura Tendulkar.

The same group of researchers had created a similar app Autism and Beyond in the year 2015. Mainly, identification was done through facial expressions. But the latest one is a much advanced version. According to researchers, it is best to use the app on a child who is above one year of age.

Currently, there are a few apps available in the market claiming to help identify autism in a child, but nothing substantial has been created till date. Parents and experts from across the world hope that this new app is going to revolutionise the way autism can be identified. Though makers have not revealed more details, the app will hopefully soon enter the Indian market as well.

Monisha Acharya Padhi is the parent of a ten year old child with autism. She, along with her husband Nayan Kumar recently started the parent support group Aawam to empower parents of children with autism.

"This new app is definitely good news. It is always best to identify symptoms of autism in the child at the earliest so that they can go for intervention. But technology cannot be fully relied as there are going to be negative aspects to it as well. For instance, the child might not be in a good mood while using the app. But that does not mean that he has symptoms of autism. Moreover, parents must eventually consult an expert and not fully rely on the app", says Monisha.

ALSO READ: Parenting Corner-Autism Myths

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