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How Early Autism Detection Via Vocal Analysis Might Work

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Vocal analysis technology is being used to study the sounds young children make as they are beginning to talk, according to the University of Kansas. One hoped for possibility is that vocal anlaysis might be used as a tool for early detection of autism.

There are some differing scenarios as far as autism onset. A significant number of parents find that their child (perhaps 44% of those in the spectrum) at first developed speech normally and then experienced regression in speech ability (usually to non-verbal) accompanied by onset of other autistic features. Early detection is a point made somewhat moot - if the first indicator for autism has already been the regression in speech ability, from normal verbal to non-verbal.  

According to the study Automated vocal analysis of naturalistic recordings from children with autism, language delay, and typical development, "A typically developing child’s age can be predicted at high levels (accounting for more than two thirds of variance) based on this first attempt at totally automated acoustic modeling with all-day recordings. The automated procedure has proven sufficiently transparent to offer suggestions on how the  developmental age prediction worked."

Vocal analysis appears to have potential for determining developmental age with regard to speech. Perhaps this will come in useful for some children who are part of the very wide autism spectrum. There are currently clinical tests available, given by professionals, that can determine developmental age for communication. Future use of vocal analysis would compliment the tests that are already available, in some cases.


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