Screening and Diagnosis

Eye tracking, FaceReader, LENA is screening and diagnosis technologies for autism in children and adults.

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The Importance of Early and Ongoing Assessment

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learning disability


absence of attention


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The diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is typically made during childhood. Presentations can differ widely among children with ASD. Some parents may perceive their children as “different” during the first few months of life. Some children may present with delayed speech development during the second year of life, while others may appear to be meeting milestones only to regress and lose skills after the first year. Some children with ASD may even go unnoticed until they begin attending school, when teachers notice difficulties with peer interactions.


Parents, caregivers, and individuals may be more accepting of a diagnosis when objective measures such as eye tracking, facial expression, and language analysis are included in the clinical evaluation. There is no doubt that ASD should be identified as early in life as possible, and having everyone on board with the diagnosis helps to ensure that intervention can begin as soon as possible. For young children with ASD, this means that important social and communication skills can be taught early on when the brain has tremendous plasticity, providing greater potential to alter developmental course and maximize the impact of intervention.


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Autism incidence is rapidly Increasing


"... the burden of proof is upon anybody who feels that there is NOT a real increase here in the number of kids affected."

- Dr. Thomas Insel -
Director of National Institute of Mental Health and head of IACC

Traditional Screening and Diagnostic Tools

A number of screening and diagnostic tools are designed to identify and track developmental progress. These instruments vary considerably in terms of ease of administration and use, time and expense involved, and amount of information provided. Training for interviews, cl inical observation, and interrater reliability is often labor intensive and expensive. In addition, measures vary in terms of their reliability, validity, and ability to accurately reflect developmental progress and deviations. Traditional ASD screening and diagnostic tools are highly subjective, relying on direct clinical observation, interviews, and parent or caregiver reports. Further assessment and diagnosis may involve referral to specialists such as neurodevelopmental pediatricians, developmentalbehavioral pediatricians, neurologists, and geneticists.

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Advances in Screening and Diagnosis

Recent advances in technology make it possible to obtain quantitative objective measurements related to autism. Abnormal eye gaze and social attention patterns are hallmark features of ASD. Individuals with autism experience difficulty processing both social input and facial feedback. An autism risk index (ARI) created using remote eye tracking technology has now been shown to be as effective as clinical diagnosis in identifying children with autism, as well as indicating the severity of symptoms. Software, such as FaceReader, allows analysis of facial expression in response to different stimuli and calculates gaze direction, head orientation, and individual characteristics. Automated language analysis systems (LENA) makes language assessments more efficient and objective.





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Eye Tracking & Facial Expression Recognition


Eye tracking and facial expression technologies facilitate rapid administration of numerous visual attention paradigms, which enhance novelty and attention. Stimuli can be repeated as often as necessary. Minimal technical expertise is required for these systems, which can be automated, and the need for ongoing inter - rater reliability checks is eliminated. Data can easily be acquired in most children. Remote eye tracking and facial expression analysis no longer require complicated headgear or the need for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or electroencephalogram (EEG) as part of the process.



See software in action at: 


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Language Environment Analysis (LENA)


Lack of speech has been considered another hallmark of ASD, especially when the child lacks desire to communicate and lacks nonverbal compensatory efforts such as gestures. Impaired speech development and conversation initiation are included among ASD diagnostic criteria, but specific vocal irregularities are not 


The Language ENvironment Analysis (LENA) System is a language monitoring and feedback tool designed to facilitate data collection in the natural language environment and provide information about the development of infants and toddlers. Studies have shown that automated vocalization/speech analysis is as valid and reliable as timeintensive and expensive existing conventional screening tools.




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Earlier Diagnosis Improves Outcomes

There is evidence that successful early intensive behavioral intervention can help children with ASD improve their cognitive and language abilities and eventually be placed in regular education classrooms.


This may help to alleviate some of the economic burden associated with ASD, which is largely due to the cost of special education in childhood.

Combining quantitative measures of ASD symptoms using eye tracking, facial expression, and language analysis technologies increase the accuracy of clinical diagnosis, eliminating the need to rely solely on cl inical impressions. Traditional diagnosis of ASD involves waiting until a child can speak and interact socially, but new technologies can monitor and analyze nonverbal communication, irregular vocalizations, and facial expressions, potentially holding the key to earlier diagnosis of ASD. Technology also has the advantage of being able to repeatedly reproduce identical actions in order to measure, record, and analyze a child’s response to the same stimuli over a period of time. There is also potential for these measures to be used to gauge treatment effects by tracking symptom severity and changes.

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Delivering Advanced Autism Screening and Diagnosis to any Site

Eye tracking, facial expression, and language analysis technologies can be bundled together for use at any site. Captured data can be transmitted off site for analysis, eliminating the need for a dedicated on-site team of specialists. This technology will eventually eliminate the need for time consuming, labor-intensive and expensive process that is often associated with traditional screening and diagnostic methods.

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