How Technology Can Help Improve the Quality of Autistic Lives?

Posted On Apr, 03, 2023

Autism is not a disability, it’s a different ability- Stuart Ian Duncan.

World Autism Awareness Day is celebrated on April 2nd every year, and the objective is to enhance the quality of life of autistic people. March 27th to April 2nd was observed as Happy World Autism Acceptance Week, and the theme for 2023 is color. 

To celebrate the theme, the National Autistic Society has set a new virtual challenge called the ‘Spectrum Colour Challenge.' Besides, the color Blue is associated with the 2023 theme to promote autism awareness among the masses.

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

An Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability triggered by developmental differences inside the brain. Psychologically, there are a few symptoms of ASD that include restricted or repetitive behaviors or interests, issues with social communication and interaction, and signs of slow learning capacities. Also, there are other physical symptoms to identify ASD in children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ASD occurs more often in boys than girls.

There are no exact causes of Autism. However, the research identifies the following multiple risks to conclude ASD in children. These suspected risks are:

  • Genetic mutations
  • Older conceiving age in mothers
  • Maternal history of viral infections
  • Family history with autism in past
  • Exposure to environmental toxins and chemicals

Clinically, ASD is an umbrella term that encompasses different levels of autism. Under ASD, other conditions like Asperger Syndrome, Pervasive Developmental Disorder, and ADHD are highly evident. While these conditions differ from each other Asperger Syndrome is a mild neurological disorder with ASD condition. In this condition, a person can still read, write and perform basic life skills. However, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and autism often overlap. Children with ADHD are at a high risk of developing autism in later years. According to researchers, autism usually surfaces at the age of 15-36 months of age. 

There is no single cure to diagnose ASD. However, a clinical method such as developmental screening and monitoring is one of the general methods followed by medical professionals.

Role of Technology to Diagnose Autism:

Today’s world is technologically dominated. The ability of machines to think, learn and resolve has outgrown human limitations. As artificial intelligence and virtual reality are making huge strides all over, the technology remains influential in gauging whether it is capable of treating Autism Disorders in children. Scientists at Stanford University have developed an AI algorithm that indicates the presence of autism symptoms and their severity in patients. The algorithm works on data gathered through MRI scans with a pattern of neural activity in the brain, and further maps the activity in many areas of the brain to create a neural ‘fingerprint’. The captured brain fingerprints are distinct from each other with unique features. This technology is underway and can be a potential new tool to diagnose and treat autism.

In another research, the publication concludes that the machine learning tools can assess the diagnosis of ASD in children through the blood biomarkers. Besides, the study also highlights that AI can become an independent and reliable biomedical screening tool to detect autism in the early stages of children.

Presently, optogenetics is followed widely to diagnose autism. Technically, optical light controls neuron activity or other cell types. Also, commercially it is a popular technique to diagnose neurological disorders. The market size for the optogenetics and actuators market is projected to grow beyond 770 billion by the end of 2030. Besides, the researchers working on brain disorders and autism have predicted that the future for optogenetics would be much more favorable to fully integrate with other technologies to study circuits in the brain.

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