Salesforce, one of the global leaders in customer relationship management (CRM) solutions, has developed an application for identifying autism as part of its 1-1-1- integrated philanthropy model. As part of this system, one per cent of Salesforce’s equity, products and employee time is dedicated to charitable work; now, having worked with the Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre (OTARC), the company has launched a free smartphone application that helps caregivers and parents to identify early autism.
Named ASDetect, the application guides parents and carers through a series of questions and videos. Red flags are then raised if the software detects there may be a problem, such as inconsistent eye contact or an inability to play social games. The underlying system has been used during the past decade by nurses in Australia as a way to detect autism; so far, it is seven times better at accurately identifying the syndrome early on than the next best solution.
It is estimated that around one in 50 children have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) of some form. Many cases are not diagnosed until children are four years old; however, if the disorder is identified before a child is two years old, intervention methods can be used.
ASDetect utilises questions developed from Dr Josephine Barbaro’s breakthrough research into the disorder. Speaking about the new app, Dr Barbaro explained: “ASDetect is an empowering tool for parents who may feel their children are developing differently than expected and are looking for answers. The new ASDetect app is an ideal way to share proven techniques with thousands of parents. All typically developing infants are motivated to be social, look at other people’s faces, learn from them and copy. Children with ASD are not doing this − and we can now accurately identify this at a much younger age and take action, with the help of parents.”
Dr Barbaro added that the application should not be used as a replacement for a professional assessment; however, it could identify potential problems for parents, allowing families to seek the professional care they need early enough to circumnavigate some of the problems causes by ASD.
Salesforce played an important part in getting the new application off the ground, with the senior vice-president of Salesforce Asia-Pacific, Dan Bognar, saying that ASDetect is a fine example of how the Salesforce platform can be used to have a positive impact on society.
“The development of ASDetect highlights our ethos of giving back as well as our commitment to improving the local communities we operate in. It has been incredibly rewarding for everyone involved, and we look forward to seeing the results of this important initiative,” Mr Bognar explained.