Mathematics Elucidates Language Use in Children with Autism

The LENA System allows researchers to record the language an individual with autism uses in everyday life and may improve our understanding of how children with autism communicate

This spectrogram of a recording made with the LENA system shows the sounds of a child on the autism spectrum. Courtesy of Catherine Lord, Cornell University.

A new algorithmic approach to quantifying language production in individuals with autism has the potential to fill a vexing gap in autism research: the shortage of objective measures of whether a proposed therapy truly improves behavioral outcomes. Mark Clements, an engineering professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, is building mathematical tools that can analyze audio recordings obtained using a wearable recording device known as the LENA (Language Environment Analysis) System.

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