According to a recent study, identifying autism through videos taken from a parent’s smartphone was found to be 87 percent as accurate as an in-depth, in-person diagnosis. This provides parents with a new, relatively simple opportunity to have their child diagnosed at an earlier age.
According to the Naturalistic Observation Diagnosis Assessment, or NODA system, a simple video of the child in several natural settings can lead to a potential diagnosis. The assessment is used as an app, developed by Behavior Imaging Solutions in partnership with Georgia Tech and Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center. The app utilizes a 10-minute video of a child in three settings: during a meal, playing on their own, and playing with others. An additional video can be added if the parents wish to record actions that they find concerning. These videos can be used to assist the parents in addressing their concerns to a clinician.
Agata Rozga, researcher at Georgia Tech, states, “The problem is that despite all the increased awareness of autism, we’re still seeing pretty significant delays between when parents first notice that there’s something off about their child and when we’re actually able to get them into the office for a diagnosis.” She continues, “The kids are missing out on treatment during that early crucial time.” Rozga emphasizes that parents should focus on what they think clinicians will need to see in order to provide an accurate diagnostic assessment. Therefore, it is essential for parents to consider what scenarios would be best to record.
Once the videos are recorded, they can be uploaded to the clinician. Physicians are able to tag the video with certain criteria for autism, make notes, and facilitate a quantitative diagnosis process. The simplicity of being able to record a video and have clinicians make an assessment addresses one of the major issues that parents face, which is waiting long periods of time to have their child screened for ASD, forcing the child to wait to receive the therapy and care that could make a great difference in their life.
In an initial clinical study, 32 children participated in the assessment. Parents followed the NODA protocol, as well as took the child to an in-person clinician who was unaware of the NODA process. According to their findings, eighty-seven of the diagnoses matched up, with more false positives than false negatives in the ones that were inaccurate. Researchers are now looking to conduct a much larger study, slated to begin in January.