Last week, scientists out of the University of Memphis announced that they have developed a computer program that can tell the difference between a child with autism, and a child without autism by a difference in their speaking .
The study has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The research shows that children with autism will fumble their syllables for a longer period of time in their early childhoods. While the program only identified a child with autism correctly 86% of the time, this is a major step forward and could be used to diagnose autism at an even earlier stage. Throughout their research, the scientists examined over 1,500 records from 232 children, between 10 months and 4-years-old.
The program is operated in two parts, through a recorder and through the computer program. Parents carry around the recorder in their pockets throughout the day, and then hook it up to the computer for analysis.
Kimbrough Oller is the lead author of the study, has previously studied the pronunciation patterns of child first learning how to speak. She later noticed that children with autism do not follow the same trajectory.
“[This software] is the first kind of system that’s totally objective. I don’t know of any other system that doesn’t involve judgments being made by people. It’s very surprising that you can use a totally objective system and get this much information so quickly,” Oller said.
Oller stressed that parents do not take this breakthrough as the sole way to diagnose a child with autism. She hopes that is used in conjunction with other methods to help children get the earliest diagnosis possible, and therefore the quickest treatment.