New technique helps early detection of autism spectrum disorder in kids
Published Tuesday, July 9, 2019 1:59PM EDT
Researchers are touting a new technique that will help doctors detect autism spectrum disorder earlier in kids.
The University of Waterloo-led study characterized how children with ASD scan people's faces differently than other children.
"Many people are suffering from autism, and we need early diagnosis especially in children," master's student Mehrshad Sadria says in part in a news release.
Researchers developed a technique based on the "gaze transitions from one part of a person’s face to another."
By comparison, two of the most popular ways to assess autism spectrum disorder are by questionnaire or a psychological evaluation.
"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," explains University of Waterloo math professor Anitya Layton.
A total of 40 children, both with and without ASD, were evaluated in the process.
They each saw dozens of photos of people's faces on a screen with an integrated 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 wave from the iris," the release explains.
Each image was divided into different areas of interest to determine how long the children looked at each one.
"A fixation time analysis indicates that ASD children exhibit a distinct gaze pattern when looking at faces, spending significantly more time at the mouth and less at the eyes, compared with TD children," the study's abstract reads.
The study was recently published in the journal Computers in Biology and Medicine.