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Automated Audio Method Can Help ID Children With Autism

Last Updated: July 21, 2010.

A method of conducting day-long audio recordings, and processing them with automated analysis, can predict children's ages and identify those with language delay or autism, according to research published online July 19 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

WEDNESDAY, July 21 (HealthDay News) -- A method of conducting day-long audio recordings, and processing them with automated analysis, can predict children's ages and identify those with language delay or autism, according to research published online July 19 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

D. Kimbrough Oller, Ph.D., of the University of Memphis in Tennessee, and colleagues discuss their findings from the use of a battery-powered all-day recorder worn in the chest pocket of children's clothing. They included 1,486 all-day recordings from 232 children between the ages of 10 months and 4 years who were either typically developing, language-delayed, or who had autism.

The researchers found that their approach can assess children's development on acoustic factors that play important roles in speech, and can differentiate between vocalizations from children who are developing normally and those with language delays or autism.

"Based on the results reported here, there appears to be little reason for doubt that totally automated analysis of well selected acoustic features from naturalistic recordings can provide a monitoring system for developmental patterns in vocalization as well as significant differentiation of children with and without disorders such as autism or language delay. We are optimistic that the procedure can be improved, as this is our first attempt at automated infrastructural modeling, with all parameters designed and implemented in advance of any analysis of recordings," the authors write.

The owners of Infoture provided funding for the recordings and hardware/software development. The study authors disclosed financial relationships with either Infoture or the nonprofit LENA Foundation, into which the company was reconstituted after dissolving.

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