autism screening with smartphone?


app screens for autism
Autism screening with smart phone

Autism screening with smartphone? Yes! This is a bold, big idea that can work if done right.

There’s now  an app that researchers use  to screen for autism.   The app  uses Apple’s Research Kit technology.  Duke researchers are involved.

Researchers seek to  collect information from families around the world to test whether a smartphone app can reliably screen kids for autism.

The app includes a parent questionnaire and  includes  a series of short videos for the child to watch. The videos are  designed to elicit various emotions. Using the iPhone’s camera function, analytical software within the app will assess the children’s facial responses.


app screens for autism
app screens for autism

Researchers hope  to collect information from children ages 1 to 6 three times each over the course of six months. Parents will receive feedback, which could include tips for addressing behavior issues or a recommendation to seek further  evaluation.

“Our goal is to develop a screening, like hearing or eyesight at schools,” said Guillermo Sapiro, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Duke. “They don’t get glasses — they get a referral.”

There are major league problems of course.  Privacy of information for one.  All sorts of data gets stolen these days and such a huge collection of information about people is invaluable  and can be misused.

This particular research at Duke University plans to collect data only three times over six months from the same child.  Results would be much stronger if results were taken for the same child over a much longer period of time — from age one to age four for example.  Six months and three snapshots of the same child is just a snapshot for a very small period of time relative to general development of language and social abilities.  But this is a beginning and parents may find this app  useful whether to seek additional assessment.

If you are a parent in California wondering whether your young child has social development delays  or other delays contact your local Regional Center and ask for Early Start Services.  Early Start services assist children with developmental delays from birth to age three. California Regonal Centers provide Early Start services.

If you suspect that your child has substantial delays in several areas your child may be eligible for ongoing California  Regional Center services at age three.  Whereas in 2009 approximately 1 child in 155 had autism as of 2015  one (1) child in 66 has autism.

As substantially  more children at being diagnosed with autism it’s reasonable to expect that more children in California   (those with substantial  delays in several areas of functioning and a recent, valid  diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorder)  will be eligible for  ongoing Regional Center services at age three.

If you suspect that your child may be substantially delayed in several areas, before the  age three request assessment for ongoing Regional Center services.  Check the website for your local Regional Center as to exactly what you need to do to request ongoing Regional Center  services at age three.

For children ages 0-3  living in Santa Cruz county, Monterey county, San Benito county and Santa Clara county contact:

As many children with autistic spectrum disorder symptoms have behavior problems which can substantially  affect overall safety of the home ongoing Regional Center services after age three can be quite helpful for parents.

If you live in Santa Cruz County and want additional information concerning your child’s  developmental delays,  you may contact licensed psychologist Cameron Jackson PSY14762 for a free initial screening.

Dr. Jackson’s office is in Santa Cruz, CA.   (831) 688-6002




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