This iPhone App Can Reportedly Spot Autism in Children

June 11, 2018 lilit 0 Comments

Technology is advancing at a fast pace. Researchers and developers are currently working on new ways to use it to help make life easier. One day our phones will be able to help us diagnose illnesses and more. Currently, there’s a new app in development that promises to detect autism in children.

Advanced. Technology has advanced quickly in a short amount of time. It’s barrelling quickly towards the future we frequently see in science fiction. Robots and AI are becoming more and more commonplace. Healthcare is becoming more and more advanced as well.

App. For a long time, we’ve strived to find newer and easier ways to diagnose people with various ailments. Doctors yearn for a more streamlined and accurate way to figure out how to treat someone. The idea of a phone app that can do this for them seems pretty unbelievable--but it’s real.

Check. There’s a new app that can help parents check to see if their child has autism or not. This tool has been in the works for a few years now. In fact, three years ago a reporter from BuzzFeed got a first look at it.

Healthcare Platform. The app, Autism and Beyond, is part of Apple’s ResearchKit healthcare platform. It was developed by a team at Duke University. It uses facial recognition algorithms and tracks a child’s reactions to various stimuli. With that information, it screens them for autism.

Not a Replacement. The researchers want to be clear: this product is not meant to replace a standard autism screening. What it’s meant to do is help alert parents if there are any abnormalities in their child’s reactions or if the parents are overreacting to something that is actually quite normal.

Assessment. Duke University’s Chief of Child and Family Mental Health and Developmental Neuroscience Dr. Helen Egger told BuzzFeed News, “This kind of assessment is expensive and requires an enormous amount of human capital. There's just no way we're going to meet the need simply by training more people because there just won't ever be enough people.”

Simple Question. She continued, “With this app we can finally put something in the hands of parents to answer a simple question: ‘When should I worry? Is this typical? Or is this something I need to talk to a professional about?'” The app is available for download in Apple’s app store.

Track. Autism and Beyond shows your child short clips and then uses the phone’s camera to track their facial movements. The software is specially-coded to allow it to detect signs of autism in a child’s face. The app can spot things that could normally take weeks of appointments for trained medical professionals.

Guided Advice. Dr. Egger told the Duke Chronicle, “Ultimately, we don’t want to just screen. We want to then be able to provide guided advice back about what to do, how to get help. We’re trying to really develop tools that take advantage of the computer in your pocket.”

Controversy. The app has sparked some controversy between two entities. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) have both voiced their disagreement of the app’s screening process.

False Positives. After a review of Autism and Beyond found that most of the results had been false positives, USPSTF began warning against the use of the app. They also stated that use of the app could lead to hypochondria.

Increase. The Center for Disease Control found that in the past 12 months the rate of autism diagnoses has increased by 15%. AAP is known as the standard-setter when it comes to pediatric health in the US. They believe that all children should be screened for autism by the age of two.

Methods. The rate of children diagnosed with autism has more than tripled since 1998, especially in the black and Latinx communities. The main reason for this uptick is because there has been an improvement in doctors methods to diagnose children.

New. The app may not be perfect yet, but it’s still new. It has plenty of time to become more accurate. It’s not meant to be the only word in your child’s health either. If you’re concerned that your child may have undiagnosed autism you can use the app to give you a better idea before taking your child to the doctor.

Better. “Having a diagnosis much sooner will help parents take better care of their children and be more patient with them and help them be as successful as they can be. Being apart of this will help other parents to avoid that anxiety,” Dr Richard Bloomfield, an assistant professor of internal medicine and pediatrics at Duke, told the Duke Chronicle.

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