‘iBehavior’ smartphone app to detect intellectual disability

‘iBehavior’ smartphone app will now help improve the accuracy of data in some clinical trials involving individuals with intellectual disability, a new research has shown. The most common genetic causes of intellectual disability are Down syndrome and fragile X syndrome.

According to researchers at University of California-Davis Health in the US, the study’s aim is to track symptoms related to executive function, often associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), using the new smartphone app called ‘iBehavior’. The study will focus on children and young adults with intellectual disability.

iBehavior’ smartphone app could make huge difference

Professor David Hessl in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at UC Davis MIND Institute said,” It’s a really smart use of a ubiquitous technology and it could make a huge difference in the accuracy of measurement in clinical trials.” Hessl was awarded a two-year, $431,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for the project.

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Hessl said, “The majority of clinical trials focused on people with intellectual disability have relied on parent or caregiver questionnaires, much like traditional paper and pencil rating scales.” That means families have to remember over a fairly long period of time — sometimes weeks — what their child’s behaviour was like. The expert explained how ‘iBehavior’ smartphone app would come to the assistance of the user.

“The app uses what we call an ecological momentary assessment, where a parent or teacher observes the child or young adult and provides ratings of behaviour much closer to the time the behaviour occurred,” Hessl added.

Families will be trained in how to use the app and what behaviour to look for. This ‘iBehavior’ smartphone app was definitely an added advantage for the families and all those who wanted to use it.

How the app works

Explaining how the ‘iBehavior’ smartphone app will work, the professor said the app will send a text when it’s time for them to start observing their child or young adult, they’ll observe for two hours, then they’ll get another text that it’s time to record what they observed. They’ll record information about aggression and irritability, hyperactivity and impulsivity, attention problems, anxiety-related behavior and avoidance and more, likely daily. Classroom teachers may also be asked to take part.

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There is currently no treatment for fragile X syndrome; there are only treatments for symptoms. The researchers are hopeful that this app will improve the assessment of a child’s behavior before, during and after treatment as well improve the assessment of potential targeted treatments.

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