Home videos used to detect autism

A recent study has confirmed our experience, that the early signs of autism can be detected by trained observers in short video clips.

For several years therapists in our associated clinic have used informal video recordings to assess the signs of alarm that are concerning a child’s parents. This is especially useful where the family lives at some distance from the clinic. In those cases parents can be asked to provide a video of their child. These videos provide a way of making an initial assessment, which may or may not be followed up with a visit to the clinic.

The study, reported in PLOS ONE, involved observers looking at 100 home videos posted to Youtube. Around half of the children in these videos had been reported as receiving a diagnosis of ASD. The observers were able to achieve a classification accuracy of this diagnosis of 96.8%, with 94.1% sensitivity and 100% specificity.

This is very encouraging confirmation that short informal videos can sometimes provide an effective way to make an initial assessment of a child’s needs. At very least, this method can often identify those children who might benefit from a more extensive, face-to-face assessment.

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