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Research, Clinicians & Smartphones Answer the Call for Families Worried About Autism

When families or physicians suspect a child has autism, early intervention is critical, yet wait lists for in-clinic assessments and diagnosis can be several months or more than a year long. Medical technologies firm Behavior Imaging Solutions has collaborated with Arizona-based Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC), Barrow Neurological Institute at Phoenix Children’s Hospital and Georgia Tech to introduce NODA™, a new technology and clinician-based autism diagnostic service that can provide families with an autism diagnosis in two weeks or less, and at half the cost of in-clinic assessments. Watch this video to learn how NODA works: behaviorimaging.com/noda-pediatrician.

Behavior Imaging's NODA, the Naturalistic Observation Diagnostic Assessment, uses smartphone technology and a team of clinicians trained for assessing behavior to confirm or rule out autism. In the comfort of their own homes, families use a smartphone app to capture video of their child’s behaviors in prescribed situations and upload the videos to a secure site. Expert SARRC clinicians evaluate the patient’s history, review videos, tag symptoms and typical and non-typical behaviors, and render a diagnosis. A diagnostic report and guidance on next steps are issued to the family and can be reviewed with the child’s pediatrician.

“Early intervention is vital for children with autism, and the NODA technology empowers families and connects them to expert diagnosticians faster than current methods,” said Christopher J. Smith, PhD, vice president and director of research for SARRC.

Barrow at Phoenix Children’s is collaborating with SARRC and Behavior Imaging to inform and educate pediatric providers statewide about NODA, so providers may offer concerned families this new diagnostic option.

“The launch of NODA is the culmination of 12 years of research and effort to develop an effective service that will help worried families get the answers they need and gain access to critical services sooner,” said Ron Oberleitner, president and CEO of Behavior Imaging Solutions, and father of a 22-year-old son with autism.

A National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) grant funded a series of clinical studies, now in final stages*, to compare NODA to other widely accepted autism spectrum diagnostic procedures and determine accuracy of results. SARRC and Georgia Tech are leading the studies, which included participation by 51 families from the greater Phoenix area – some who suspected their child(ren) may have autism, and some whose children exhibited no developmental delays.

Research findings have demonstrated an 88.2 percent agreement between the NODA and the “gold standard” in-person diagnostic procedure. Complete study findings will be available in early 2015.

“We were excited to play a role in the design and evaluation of this technological solution. This is a great example of how technology can accelerate, and even improve, the diagnostic process,” said Agata Rozga, PhD, a research scientist at Georgia Tech and a co-investigator on the project. “Remote diagnosis directly addresses the challenge of access for families who cannot travel or do not want to wait months for an in-person visit.”

Requirements to use NODA include having access to wireless Internet, and to an iPhone, iPad or iPod. Children must be between the ages of 18 months and seven years. NODA is currently offered as a private pay option for a $495 fee. Future plans are to make NODA available through an insurance payment model and on additional mobile platforms, and to offer health assessments for expanded age groups.

Physicians may refer parents and caregivers to NODA, or families may access the service directly. To learn more about NODA or to sign up for the NODA service, visit behaviorimaging.com/NODA or call (855) 649-NODA.

*Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R44MH099035. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

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