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Passive Audio Vocal Capture and Measurement in the Evaluation of Selective Mutism

By Helen Y. Xu, Jacob Stroud, Renee K. Jozanovic, Jon Clucas, Jake Son, Bonhwang Koo, Juliet Schwarz, Arno Klein, Rachel Busman, Michael Milham

Posted 18 Jan 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/250308

Selective Mutism (SM) is an anxiety disorder often diagnosed in early childhood and characterized by persistent failure to speak in certain social situations but not others. Diagnosing SM and monitoring treatment response can be quite complex, due in part to changing definitions of and scarcity of research about the disorder. Subjective self-reports and parent/teacher interviews can complicate SM diagnosis and therapy, given that similar speech problems of etiologically heterogeneous origin can be attributed to SM. The present perspective discusses the potential for passive audio capture to help overcome psychiatry's current lack of objective and quantifiable assessments in the context of SM. We present evidence from two pilot studies indicating the feasibility of using a digital wearable device to quantify child vocalization features affected by SM. We also highlight limitations in the design and implementation of this preliminary work that can help guide future efforts.

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