The EarliPoint™ Evaluation for autism is an FDA cleared device to assist clinicians with diagnosis and assessment of autism. Utilizing Dynamic Quantification of Social-Visual Engagement (DQSVE), EarliPoint captures moment-by-moment looking behavior imperceptible to the human eye. For a child, it is as simple as watching a video – like scenes of toddlers playing –while the device assesses the individual focal points at a rate of 120 times per second. Each data point is then compared to thousands of discrete measurements within a clinically validated database, so that parents, caregivers and providers, have timely, objective and accurate information concerning potential developmental vulnerabilities.
Typically developing children viewing videos tend to focus on the same area of a scene at the same moment about 80% of the time. This responsiveness to socially salient aspects of the video is known as entrainment. By noting specific convergence points in the video, points where typical children are looking at a singular focal point at a singular moment, the EarliPoint test can compare an individual child’s looking behavior, or entrainment, to a statistically significant threshold.
Figure 1 shows looking behavior for a video scene where typically developing children are converging on a single area at the same moment in time. Represented by the narrow, red area on the saliency map (Fig.1), these focal points are compiled and evaluated over many scenes (Fig. 2), creating Attentional Funnels™. Attentional funnels are clinically validated reference standards used to evaluate entrainment of an individual child. During the test, a child’s attention, whether inside or outside of the funnel (Fig. 3), is analyzed to determine the Measure of Relative Entrainment (MRE) and provide information for early identification of autism along with the EarliPoint Severity Indices that correlate with the level of social disability, verbal ability and non-verbal learning.
Looking behavior is a strong indicator of a neurodevelopmental vulnerability. On average, the looking behavior of young children with autism deviates more than a thousand times (or video frames) from the normative attentional funnels during a testing session. These deviations can be interpreted as missed opportunities for social learning. In real-life social interaction, these results suggest that young children with autism may miss over ten thousand momentary opportunities for social learning in a 2-hour social encounter.