Designed and developed in consultation with the University of Reading, START is an innovative new app which will be used as a basic autism screening test for children in India. The purpose of the research is to try and find a simple technological solution for people with limited medical training to quickly administer screening tests to children in remote areas.
University of Reading is the lead academic partner, with Therapy Box acting as lead technical partner. Research for this project is also being carried out by Harvard University, Public Health Foundation of India, Birkbeck University of London, Nottingham Trent University, All India Institutes of Medical Sciences, Sangath, and Indian Institute of Technology Bombay. This project is funded by a Global Challenge Research Fund Foundation Award by the Medical Research Council UK.
Children with ASD generally take longer than children without ASD to disengage their attention from prior stimuli. They also generally prefer non-social stimuli to social stimuli (unlike children without ASD). Eye-tracking will allow researchers to measure each child’s response to stimuli shown on screen, and evaluate the time taken to engage with each stimulus and compare the stimuli that each child engages with. Eye-tracking works using the device’s own camera, and does not need expensive or cumbersome external equipment.
Research for this project requires extensive data collection. This is achieved through a mix of surveys and games. Surveys are designed to be easily understood and are all multiple choice, for simplicity in evaluation. Games automatically measure a child’s performance and provide an assessment. As research will be carried out in remote areas, the app is capable of storing a substantial amount of data until the device is online.