A La Trobe University app that can help detect the signs of autism in children younger than two-years-old is being translated into Chinese-Mandarin.

Now work is underway for the Australian University to collaborate with China-based developers to bring the life-changing research to more than one billion people living in China.

ASDetect is a smartphone app based on comprehensive, rigorous and world-class research conducted by La Trobe University’s Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre (OTARC). It empowers parents and caregivers to identify the early signs of autism in children by assessing their social attention and communication behaviours.

La Trobe University is based in Melbourne, Australia. It is more than 50 years old and ranked in the top 400 in the world by all the major international ranking agencies.

OTARC Director and La Trobe Professor Cheryl Dissanayake said the research supporting the app is 81 per cent accurate in the early detection of autism.

“The technique underlying ASDetect has been used for a decade by hundreds of maternal and child health nurses in Australia, as well as early childhood professionals around the world, including China” Professor Dissanayake said.

“Now, we want to bring this service to China on platforms such as WeChat, Android and IOS.

“Our goal is to make this help accessible to as many people in the world as possible. Early identification of autism can lead to earlier intervention and support, leading to better outcomes for children and families.”

It’s estimated there are 15 million people living with autism in China, with the average age of diagnosis currently at between 4 and 6 years of age.

“Having an early detection tool like ASDetect will help families in China reduce the average age of diagnosis and provide their children with the support they need during the most crucial years of their life,” Professor Dissanayake said.

“The introduction of the app in China will not only give every parent easy and affordable access to world-class evidence-based autism research from La Trobe University, it will allow them to assess their children within their home prior to seeking further diagnosis from their health professionals.”

ASDetect has been used extensively by parents worldwide. It has been downloaded 26,752 times, reached 11,176 children and helped users conduct 9,267 assessments worldwide.

How it works:

Through a series of assessments – presented in the form of videos, questions and activities – ASDetect guides parents through the identification of early key signs of autism, including when young children repeatedly do not:

– Make consistent eye contact
– Share smiles
– Show their toys to others
– Play social games
– Point to indicate interest
– Respond when their name is called

ASDetect guides parents through the assessments, which take about 20 minutes to complete. Once an assessment is completed, an on-screen result of either ‘low’ or ‘high’ likelihood of autism is emailed to the parent, which they can share with a health professional.


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