Detecting Language Disorders

The ATLAS Project logo

The ATLAS Project

Who’s it for?

Funded by NIHR i4i Connect programme, ATLAS is a collaborative project with the Bristol Speech and Language Therapy Research Unit, and is designed as a tool for speech and language therapists to rapidly analyse the language of children at risk of developmental language disorder (DLD). DLD affects 8% of the population and there are 800,000 children living with DLD in the UK.

What does it do?

ATLAS will help clinicians to more rapidly record, transcribe and analyse a narrative language sample; with an estimated time saving of 100 minutes per child per assessment. It is hoped that the technology will allow speech and language therapists to see more children, more quickly.

NHS Funded Research

ATLAS is funded by the research arm of the NHS.

In 2018 this project was funded by the NIHR i4i Connect programme. The project was to develop a proof of concept, which the team did working with Dr Yvonne Wren and the Bristol Speech and Language Therapy Research Unit, using the population dataset from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). The project won the Virgin Media VOOM Award and was listed in the HealthTech Innovation of the Year category in the Digital Leaders 100.

Project Objective

Using machine learning to screen children for developmental language disorder

Approximately half of all children who have developmental language disorder (DLD) go undetected. This is partly because the NHS does have enough resources to screen all children for signs of DLD. The aim of the ATLAS project is to create an app that can screen children using machine learning. This will dramatically reduce the cost of screening and ultimately make it possible for all children to be screened.

Project Outcome

Automated analysis of language

Using speech recognition, transcription tools and language analysis, ATLAS will help clinicians to assess children more rapidly. We are hoping in 2020 to have an evaluation across three clinical sites, to determine how parents, children and clinicians find the app; how much time it saves and how it aligns with the gold standard assessment and the clinical decision making of a speech and language therapist.

Saving Time

ATLAS will save NHS speech and language therapists up to 100 minutes per patient.

The goal of ATLAS is ultimately save the NHS time and money - which will allow speech and language therapists to see more children and reduce waiting lists. The detailed analysis will also help with planning therapy more effectively.

Machine Learning

Using machine learning to speed up assessment of developmental language disorder

Two children in every classroom have DLD, and so it is essential that speech and language therapists can rapidly assess children to identify who needs intervention; tailor their plans for therapy and keep outcome measures. ATLAS will dramatically reduce the time needed and also provide a detailed analysis of language features, to help clinicians to identify areas of language competency and arease a child may need more help.

Standard Measures

As well as machine learning, ATLAS also includes industry standard measures

The ATLAS framework will offer both fixed analysis using industry standard measures as well as more in depth analysis of the language structure and content. In parallel the machine learning framework will run to either consolidate or supersede the outcome of the standard measures.