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#TechThursdays: Game-based platform ScreenPlay helps kids at risk of developmental disorders

ScreenPlay, a product by Kidaura Innovations, aims to enable early screening of children between the ages of three to six years who are at potential risk of autism or other related disabilities. The game-based platform has been tested across six schools in India.

Signs of autism often start manifesting themselves in children when they are between 18 to 36 months. They are not so easily noticed in children with borderline autism and often get mistaken as delayed developmental milestones.

It is this delay ScreenPlay, a game-based digital screening platform by Kidaura Innovations aims to address. Using technology the child is put through visual-based interactive games, that require little or no expertise. The child's responses indicate if the intervention of a specialist is needed.

ScreenPlay is made up of a set of tablet-based games and helps capture the true nature of the child without making him/her feel assessed. Moreover, we can record minute details the naked eye can't even comprehend. Also, artificial intelligence (AI) lets us extract and analyse patterns in the child's gameplay which helps in predicting the potential risk of autism and other related disabilities. - Shiv Kumar, Co-Founder, Kidaura Innovations

A social initiative, Nashik-based Kidaura Innovations aims to enhance the lives of children in the formative years of growth and development. The other co-founders with Shiv are Sarthak Behl, Paras Sharma and Tanya Pradhan.

Shiv and Sarthak started off by working on a project to improve communication for deaf and hard of hearing students. They found support at the Digital Impact Square (DISQ), a Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) Foundation initiative that fosters innovations based on digital technology to meet social challenges. Here, they met Tanya and Paras and the team was formed.

"At DISQ we got an opportunity to work and research on developmental disabilities in children and found out that children with disabilities are missed out in their golden period of three to six years, which led us to where we are right now". says Shiv, "with a tool to help identify children at potential risk early".

Fun-based, Scale-able

The team is based in Nashik under the mentorship of DISQ. Until now, over 900 children across six schools have been screened.

"Our journey has shown us that the school ecosystem is sensitive towards the child's overall growth and development", adds Shiv. The difficulty lies in identifying the challenges the child may be going through. Schools also take months to identify the issue, while ScreenPlay does this in 15 minutes of gameplay.

"Many children have developmental issues that go undetected by doctors and school authorities are clueless as well leading to conflict situations", says Dr Uma Bachhav, a developmental pediatrician at Milestone, Learning Centre for Developmental Disorders, an ecosystem partner in the ScreenPlay project. The Nashik-based centre reaches out to children with a range of disabilities including autism, cerebral palsy, learning disorders, among others.

ScreenPlay, says Dr Bachhav, can help prevent this as experts can now identify the issues earlier. "We have been working with the team for the last two years and we have fine tuned it after a lot of trials". ScreenPlay, she believes, has an edge over existing tools as it is "not very verbal dependent, mostly visual and therefore child-friendly and applicable to a range of situations".

It takes diagnosis out of a clinic-based setting into the home, adds Dr Anjana Wankhede, Principal, Oasis Montessori, a pre-school in Nashik, and project partner. "We held a drawing competition in school where we used a ScreenPlay game programme that uses colouring skills to test children". ScreenPlay has helped flag signs of autism in children as young as three in the school. "It is an innovative tool and Many kids could not recognise borders and that makes enables parents and teachers to identify and understand".

Identification delays lead to children missing out on the golden period of development and growth. This is crucial to maximise the positive impact of early intervention and therapies given that 75% of the brain development takes place in this age group. ScreenPlay offers a fun, game-based way to prevent this.

Also Read: #TechThursdays - Kibo XS, world's 1st intelligent personalised scanning & reading companion

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