A Systematic Literature Review on the Application of Machine-Learning Models in Behavioral Assessment of Autism Spectrum Disorder

J Pers Med. 2021 Apr 14;11(4):299. doi: 10.3390/jpm11040299.


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is associated with significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges. The insufficient number of trained clinicians coupled with limited accessibility to quick and accurate diagnostic tools resulted in overlooking early symptoms of ASD in children around the world. Several studies have utilized behavioral data in developing and evaluating the performance of machine learning (ML) models toward quick and intelligent ASD assessment systems. However, despite the good evaluation metrics achieved by the ML models, there is not enough evidence on the readiness of the models for clinical use. Specifically, none of the existing studies reported the real-life application of the ML-based models. This might be related to numerous challenges associated with the data-centric techniques utilized and their misalignment with the conceptual basis upon which professionals diagnose ASD. The present work systematically reviewed recent articles on the application of ML in the behavioral assessment of ASD, and highlighted common challenges in the studies, and proposed vital considerations for real-life implementation of ML-based ASD screening and diagnostic systems. This review will serve as a guide for researchers, neuropsychiatrists, psychologists, and relevant stakeholders on the advances in ASD screening and diagnosis using ML.

Keywords: artificial intelligence; autism spectrum disorder; diagnosis; machine learning; screening.

Publication types

  • Review