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Researchers develop game app for autism rehabilitation

Xinhua | Updated: 2019-06-04 14:04
A teacher interacts with an autistic child in Xuzhou, East China's Jiangsu province, March 31, 2017. April 2 marks the World Autism Awareness Day. [Photo/Xinhua]

SHANGHAI -- Researchers from China and the UK are developing a game app based on artificial intelligence technology to help children with autism.

The game app, named "AI monkey", is co-developed by the Xinhua Hospital Affiliated to Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine and the University of Cambridge. The game is designed for autistic children aged between two and four, who can use this game as rehabilitation training at home.

The game is interactive and utilizes facial recognition technology. When a child looks at the face of the monkey in the game, the monkey will intimate the child's behavior and facial expression such as shaking its head or sticking out its tongue. If the child stops looking at the monkey or loses concentration, the monkey on the screen will disappear immediately, turning into fireworks to reattract the child's attention.

According to Li Fei from the hospital, early childhood brain development can be intervened and the time between two and four years old is the golden period of intervention for autistic children. High-frequency and high-quality training is vital for autism treatment but many families in China don't have access to it as it costs a lot of money.

This game will help them grasp the golden period of training to improve their condition, Li said.

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by varying degrees of impairment in communication skills and social interactions and by restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior.

The disease affects at least 10 million people in China including more than 2 million children, according to an industry report released in 2015. China has set up more than 1,800 rehabilitation centers for treating children with autism.

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