Sesobel is an NGO working with more than 1,400 children with disabilities every year, including children with the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), aiming to meet their medical, social, educational and rehabilitation needs. Sesobel recently completed a new spacious treatment and rehabilitation centre with innovative video technology, unique of its kind in school and rehabilitation settings in the Middle East. This centre is leveraging a specially developed monitoring and behavioural logging solution to help solve the challenges of diagnosing and treating children with ASD. Therapists can now easily record therapy sessions and quantitively track children’s progress by coding their behaviour. This process helps to improve the treatment plan and enhance research and development in this field.
The Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterised by repetitive and characteristic patterns of behaviour and difficulties with social communication and interaction. Early behavioural and educational interventions have been successful in many children with ASD, where the treatment plan is based on a standardised and reliable assessment that requires the involvement of the entire team to be able to set up interventions that meet the specific needs of the child.
The new rehabilitation centre at Sesobel is equipped with a state-of-the-art behaviour monitoring and logging system, a project initiated by Systeminence in collaboration with Axis Communications and Milestone Systems to aid evaluations and enhance treatment. Using this video recording system, therapists are more likely to set up an individualised treatment plan for each child. The project provides the medical and educational team with accurate quantitative data to help in ASD diagnosis, define specific goals and evaluate treatment outcomes.
ASD Therapy challenges
Sesobel currently works with more than 70 children with ASD, where a standardised treatment protocol is adopted. This protocol requires a weekly assessment to evaluate treatment outcomes. The scoring method involves the opinion of at least two people who know the child’s abilities; generally, from the medical and educational team, where the children are observed individually or in small groups.
Before implementing the video recording system, this procedure was time-consuming, semi-quantitative and was not useful in detecting slight changes in the children’s behaviour or distinguishing different behaviour patterns. During traditional therapy sessions, the Sesobel team had to have a camera and a video operator in the therapy room, easily distracting the children. The treatment session’s outcome was usually documented manually on hard copies and stored in the child’s folder, while the recorded videos were difficult to manage and often not saved correctly. This made analysing the data a daunting challenge.
First of its kind in the Middle East
The new autism centre is equipped with the state-of-the-art behaviour management system, “Mantis,” a Milestone smart client plugin developed by Systeminence to manage, operate behavioural therapy sessions and organise data.
The project focuses on enhancing the classroom experience of children with ASD by recording their behaviour and expressions through Axis cameras installed inside the therapy room or the classroom. With Milestone smart client, the operator can control the cameras from the control room without distracting the child or interrupting the therapy session.
During or after each session, the therapist can log behaviours directly on the video timeline inside the smart client, making all the behavioural details easily accessible, searchable, detectable and quantifiable. All the data concerning the treatment goals and outcomes are stored in one place and accessed remotely. Specialists will be using the recordings to extract valuable information from the videos and customise each child’s experience.
Over time, the therapists can accurately track the children’s progress by studying their behaviour through recorded videos. A coding protocol is possible, allowing to extract comparative clinical reports, where a timeline of the global sessions is possible. A descriptive statistical analysis could also be generated, making the clinical interpretation easier and more accurate. Moreover, the quantification of all these data will allow the medical team to carry out, in the future, research studies to better assess and treat children with ASD.
Abir Massaad PT, PhD, Head of Research and Development department at SESOBEL and an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Medicine at Saint-Joseph University, Beirut said: “The time required to evaluate the sessions has dramatically decreased as we no longer need people from the medical-educational team to be physically present during the sessions.
“We will be able to review, discuss and adjust the goals and treatment plans for the different cases regularly at our team meetings. The children are no longer distracted by the cameraman and the video camera, which allows the child to be more focused and responsive to the therapist’s stimulation. These effects will enhance the quality of the treatment.
“Furthermore, digitisation has made the session management and data tracking an easy and less time-consuming task. It provides us with an intuitive interface to accurately and quantitatively code behaviours, study, filter and generate data reports. This process will allow us to detect slight changes and to better evaluate our treatment outcome in a way we were not able to achieve before.”