3D Imaging Opens Up New Dimension of Possibilities in Autism Treatments

autism facial imaging


3D imaging has been used to create great innovations in certain industries from film to video games. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have found a new use for it in the ongoing search for better autism treatments and early screening tools.

The purpose of the study was to find a correlation between specific facial traits and types of autism on the autism spectrum. Doctor Judith Miles, a professor of Child Health-Genetics, was first inspired to conduct such research after many clinical observations.

“Over years of treating children, I noticed that a portion of those diagnosed with autism tend to look alike with similar facial characteristics,” noted Miles.

Ye Duan, associate professor of computer science at the university, explains how this research can be ground-breaking in providing families with an early screening option for the disorder. Duan states that the 3D imaging software “might help us define the facial structures common to children with autism.”

Professors created a system that took many pictures of each child through multiple cameras. Then, special software compiled the pictures into one 3D image for each child, so that scientists could measure distances along the curvature of the face. This system allows for more accurate facial measurements, as opposed to measuring the faces in straight lines like previous tests have done.

Two groups of children from 8 to 12 years old were analyzed in the study. One group was made up of children diagnosed with autism, and typically developing children comprised the other group.

After statistical analysis of the images, researchers created a “fine-tuned map” of the children’s faces, which compared measurements with the autism symptoms they exhibit. They arrived at three subgroups of autism, based on similar facial traits within each subgroup. The children in each group had similar measurement patterns, which implies that there may be a way to treat children on the autism spectrum more effectively, if different treatments can be developed for each group.

Researchers continue to search for specific genes linked to the three subgroups, with hopes that the identification of such genes can lead to the development of more effective treatments and drug therapies. Although specific genes have not been identified yet, the software brings new hope that children with autism can receive more personalized and effective treatments that work for them as individuals.

Written by Samantha Mallari

This entry was posted in Autism Action Alerts, Autism America, Autism Awareness, Autism Diagnosis, Autism Education, Autism News, Autism Research, Autism Symptoms, Autism Therapy, Autism Treatment, Featured and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

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