Autism App Team Wins Cultural Diversity Award

June 15, 2017


Guillermo Sapiro and Helen Egger

Guillermo Sapiro and Helen Egger

The International Society for Autism Research (INSAR) presented the Cultural Diversity Award to a team from Duke University and University of Cape Town at their annual meeting in May 2017. The award was in recognition for a paper outlining how a mobile device app developed by the Duke team might help identify young children at risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder in low-income community settings in South Africa.

Dubbed “Autism and Beyond,” the app has been developed for the past several years using the Apple ResearchKit. As a toddler watches videos, sophisticated algorithms analyze “selfie”-camera recordings of head movements and facial expressions for small but significant signs of autistic behavior, such as a lack of emotions, social-reference or delayed response. The app is being studied as a possible tool to expand autism screening and enable earlier diagnosis and intervention. It’s a critical need given that most children with autism aren’t diagnosed until age five or later.

The INSAR Cultural Diversity Committee was created to provide a forum for professional development, information sharing, and collaborative activities among researchers and clinicians interested in racial/ethnic/cultural/socioeconomic diversity in autism.

Paper citation: A. J. Kumm, K. Campbell, S. Marsan, J. Hashemi, S. Espinosa, R. Bloomfield, G. Dawson, G. Sapiro, H. Egger, and P. J. de Vries. ``Feasibility of a smartphone application to identify young children at risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder in a low-income community setting in South Africa.''