ASDetect, an app launched in February this year, helps parents detect early signs of Autism in their children – when they are as young as 11 to 30 months old. The app, which consists of an assessment , takes around 20 minutes to complete. Through the assessment, parents answer a series of questions based on videos of autistic and non autistic children ages 12, 18, and 24 months old. After going through the videos, and answering up to 15 questions, the answers are sent to a database maintained by Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre (OTARC) at La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia. The app then sends an email notification to the parents indicating whether their child has early signs of Autism or not.
The app is based on studies done over 10 years with 38,000 children ages 12 to 24 months old from Melbourne, Australia. It was also seen in follow up studies that intellectual disabilities declined in children who were helped early in life. The two researchers behind this app, professor Cheryl Dissanayake and Dr. Josephine Barbaro claim that ASDetect is more than 7 times more accurate than other tools available today. They also stress that the assessment results are one diagnosis, and parents are encouraged to get a formal assessment from a doctor.
ASDetect has been downloaded over 10,000 times, with majority of users in Australia followed by Russia. So far, around 4,500 children have gone through complete assessment through this app. In the future, the researchers want to have this app developed in other languages as well, including Mandarin, Spanish, Indonesian, Japanese, and Polish. Videos for these languages will be shot in their native countries using toys, objects and social cues relevant to that country’s culture. They also want to include children up to 5 years old in the future version.