March 18, 2021
Autism spectrum disorders (ASD), which can cause social, behavioral and communication challenges, often are diagnosed after a lengthy and often subjective assessment process. However, new screening technology from the University of Missouri could soon be a game changer for families.
Most children are diagnosed with ASD after the age of 4, although signs can appear in children as young as 12 months. Studies show that the involuntary pupil size change that occurs when a person’s eyes respond to light is different in children with ASD and other neurological disorders.
Judith Miles, professor emerita of child health and genetics, and Gary Yao, professor of biomedical, biological and chemical engineering, developed a device and associated software that makes it possible to track and measure these pupil changes in children at an earlier age than was previously possible.
Miles and Yao began work on their technology in 2012 after being selected to receive proof-of-concept funding from MU’s Coulter Biomedical Accelerator. Their screening technology has been patented and was recently licensed by Kansas City company PANDA Healthcare Technologies.
Ultimately, the company hopes to provide pediatricians with an objective diagnostic tool that takes five minutes to administer and can be incorporated into regular well-child checkups. This will help improve diagnostic accuracy and allow practitioners to evaluate much younger children.
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