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Test able to quantify diagnostic status as well as individual levels of social disability, verbal ability, and nonverbal ability.

Objective measurements of social visual engagement through eye tracking-based measures can be used to aid in autism diagnosis and assessment, according to a study published online Sept. 5 in JAMA Network Open.

Warren Jones, Ph.D., from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and colleagues developed an objective, eye tracking-based index test to aid in early diagnosis and assessment of autism in children younger than 3 years. The analysis included data from 1,089 children (719 children in the discovery study and 370 children in the replication study).

The researchers found that in the discovery study, the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve was 0.90, sensitivity was 81.9 percent, and specificity was 89.9 percent. Findings were similar in the replication study (0.89, 80.6 percent, and 82.3 percent, respectively). Eye-tracking test results correlated with expert clinical assessments of children’s individual levels of ability, explaining 68.6 percent of variance in reference standard assessments of social disability, 63.4 percent for verbal ability, and 49.0 percent of nonverbal cognitive ability.

“These results offer the prospect of an objective biomarker to aid in autism diagnosis and assessment,” the authors write.

Several authors disclosed ties to EarliTec Diagnostics, which helped with eye-tracking data processing and analysis.

Abstract/Full Text

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