Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 46, Issue 11, pp 3615–3621 | Cite as

Brief Report: Evaluation of an Intelligent Learning Environment for Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Zhi Zheng
  • Zachary WarrenEmail author
  • Amy Weitlauf
  • Qiang Fu
  • Huan Zhao
  • Amy Swanson
  • Nilanjan Sarkar
Brief Report


Researchers are increasingly attempting to develop and apply innovative technological platforms for early detection and intervention of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This pilot study designed and evaluated a novel technologically-mediated intelligent learning environment with relevance to early social orienting skills. The environment was endowed with the capacity to administer social orienting cues and adaptively respond to autonomous real-time measurement of performance (i.e., non-contact gaze measurement). We evaluated the system with both toddlers with ASD (n = 8) as well as typically developing infants (n = 8). Children in both groups were able to ultimately respond accurately to social prompts delivered by the technological system. Results also indicated that the system was capable of attracting and pushing toward correct performance autonomously without user intervention.


Autism spectrum disorders Social communication Adaptive systems Early identification 



This study was supported by in part by the National Institute of Health under Grants 1R01MH091102-01A1 and R21 MH103518. Work also includes core support from EKS NICHD of the NIH under Award U54HD083211 and by CTSA Award UL1TR000445.

Author’s Contribution

This research in part formed the basis of ZZ’s Doctorate in Electrical Engineering. ZZ, QF, HZ, and AS collected the data. ZZ, ZW, AW, AS, HZ, QF, and NS made substantial contributions to the design, analysis and interpretation of the data, and manuscript. All authors read and approved the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zhi Zheng
    • 1
  • Zachary Warren
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
    Email author
  • Amy Weitlauf
    • 2
    • 5
  • Qiang Fu
    • 1
  • Huan Zhao
    • 1
  • Amy Swanson
    • 5
  • Nilanjan Sarkar
    • 1
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer ScienceVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of PediatricsVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  4. 4.Department of Special EducationVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  5. 5.Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, Treatment and Research Institute of Autism Spectrum DisordersVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  6. 6.Department of Mechanical EngineeringVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA

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