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The Use of the Gooru Stroller Mirror as a Diagnostic Tool for Autism

While the Gooru Stroller Mirror is likely beneficial to all developing children, there may be additional benefits for children faced with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), representing 1 in 59 kids in the USA (autismspeaks.org 2018 ).

The Use of the Gooru Stroller Mirror as a Diagnostic Tool for Autism

Eye contact detection happens in the first 2 to 5 days of life for humans (Farroni, Csibra, Simion,& Johnson, 2002).  Eye contact and communication are key for human development (Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University 2017). Whether in person or through video, eye-to-eye communication, at the very least, stimulates improved communicative and language development in children (Leong 2017). 

Children are typically placed in forward-facing strollers after 6 months of age, or when they are able to sit up on their own (Mayo Clinic 2019), allowing the child to see the world around them.   This near-universal action ends child eye contact and limits communication with parents/caregivers/babysitters.

When the Gooru Stroller Mirror is attached to a stroller, typically developing children will look into the mirror on their own, when their name is called, or when they are directed to by a caregiver.  Through the mirror, the child will make eye contact with and interact with their caregiver (Fernsten 2019b).

The behavioral symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often appear by 12 months to 18 months of age or earlier (NIH 2019).  Two relevant diagnostic indicators for ASD in children are:

1.     Lack of eye contact

2.     Not responding to their name (NIH 2019)

As such, children with ASD may not look into a stroller mirror to see themselves or to make eye contact with their caregiver. Those with later-onset ASD, may initially engage through a stroller mirror, but then noticeably stop engaging, even when directed to look into the mirror..

For this reason, the Gooru Stroller Mirror may provide parents/caregivers/babysitters with an early detection mechanism for Autism symptoms.

Early diagnosis and early treatment of ASD leads to better outcomes (NICH 2020b).

Gooru Stroller Mirror Relevance to Early Treatment of ASD

Once a child is diagnosed with ASD, there are dozens of different treatment options available (NICH 2020a). 

One such recommended treatment is Slow Habituation to Eye Contact in a Non-Therapeutic Environment. According to Nouchine Hadjikhani, MD, PhD, from the Harvard Medical School, “An approach involving slow habituation to eye contact may help children…be able to handle eye contact in the long run, thereby avoiding the cascading effects that eye-avoidance has on the development of the social brain.” (Massachusetts General Hospital 2017)

Providing opportunities for habituation to eye contact while out on a daily walk, through the Gooru Stroller Mirror, may be an appropriate non-therapeutic environmental intervention for children diagnosed with ASD (Fernsten 2019a). 

APA References

Autism Speaks. (n.d.). Autism Facts and Figures. Retrieved January 12, 2020, from https://www.autismspeaks.org/autism-facts-and-figures

Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. (2017, October). Three Principles to Improve Outcomes for Children and Families. Retrieved January 12, 2020, from https://46y5eh11fhgw3ve3ytpwxt9r-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/HCDC_3PrinciplesPolicyPractice.pdf

Farroni, T., Gergely , C., Johnson, M. H., & Simione, F. (2002, July 9). Eye contact detection in humans from birth. Retrieved January 12, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC123187/

Fernsten, P. (2019a, October 12). Communication in Strollers/Autism Notes – Gooru Global. Retrieved January 12, 2020, from https://gooruglobal.com/2019/10/12/communication-in-strollers-autism-notes/

Fernsten, P. (2019b, October 14). The Importance of Enhanced Stroller Communication – Gooru Global. Retrieved January 12, 2020, from https://gooruglobal.com/2019/10/14/the-importance-of-enhanced-stroller-communication/

Leong, V. (2017, December 12). Speaker gaze increases information coupling between infant and adult brains. Retrieved January 12, 2020, from https://www.pnas.org/content/114/50/13290.abstract

Massachusetts General Hospital. (2017, June 15). Why do those with autism avoid eye contact? Imaging studies reveal overactivation of subcortical brain structures in response to direct gaze. Retrieved January 12, 2020, from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170615213252.htm

Mayo Clinic. (2018, May 15). Stroller safety: Tips for parents. Retrieved January 12, 2020, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/in-depth/stroller-safety/art-20043967

(NICHDa) Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (n.d.). https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/autism/conditioninfo/treatments. Retrieved January 12, 2020, from https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/autism/conditioninfo/treatments(NICHDb) Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (n.d.). When do children usually show symptoms of autism? Retrieved January 12, 2020, from https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/autism/conditioninfo/symptoms-appear

Puck Fernsten

Founder, Gooru
puck@gooruglobal.com