App Hopes to Help Doctors Diagnose Autism Faster

To help with the problem, the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center, a Phoenix-based autism research nonprofit, is developing a smartphone application that specialists would use to diagnose autism based on videos of children's behavior uploaded onto a website.

The app, the Naturalistic Observation Diagnostic Assessment, could shorten the diagnostic process so children can get treatment earlier, especially in rural communities where skilled specialists are difficult to find....

Parents still would have to arrange follow-up treatment and care with specialists, and there would be an unknown cost for the app-based diagnosis.

The autism center, which is funding the app development with a $2.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, is collaborating with Behavior Imaging Solutions, a Boise, Idaho, medical-technology company, and the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.

Christopher Smith, the autism center's vice president and director of research, said that testing will begin this summer with a few families and that the app will potentially be available as early as 2014.

"This is an exciting opportunity for the community to find new ways to at least help lower and help reduce the disparity of health care in this country," said Andy Shih, senior vice president of scientific affairs at Autism Speaks, one of the world's largest autism-advocacy organizations.

Image: Doctor using smartphone, via Shutterstock

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