Digitized autism observation diagnostic schedule: Social interactions beyond the limits of the naked eye

Harshit Bokadia, Richa Rai, Elizabeth Barbara Torres

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The complexity and non-linear dynamics of socio-motor phenomena underlying social interactions are often missed by observation methods that attempt to capture, describe, and rate the exchange in real time. Unknowingly to the rater, socio-motor behaviors of a dyad exert mutual influence over each other through subliminal mirroring and shared cohesiveness that escape the naked eye. Implicit in these ratings nonetheless is the assumption that the other participant of the social dyad has an identical nervous system as that of the interlocutor, and that sensory-motor information is processed similarly by both agents’ brains. What happens when this is not the case? We here use the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) to formally study social dyadic interactions, at the macro-and micro-level of behaviors, by combining observation with digital data from wearables. We find that integrating subjective and objective data reveals fundamentally new ways to improve standard clinical tools, even to differentiate females from males using the digital version of the test. More generally, this work offers a way to turn a traditional, gold-standard clinical instrument into an objective outcome measure of human social behaviors and treatment effectiveness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number159
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Personalized Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


  • Autism
  • Digital biomarkers
  • Network connectivity
  • Non-linear complex dynamics
  • Social dyads
  • Socio-motor parameters
  • Stochastic analysis
  • Time series analysis
  • Wearables

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