Autism Sensing Center of Excellence (A-Sense)

About A-Sense

The Autism Sensing Center of Excellence (ASC) is a world-class center that aims to contribute to innovative technology enhancement in the field of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) assessment and intervention. The center aims to deliver impactful technologies through multidisciplinary research in computing, medicine, and education to support autistic children and their families.

A-Sense Vision and Goals

A-Sense Research Priority Areas

Enabling the remote observation and quantitative assessment of autistic children can fuel early diagnosis capabilities and targeted intervention and improve educational outcomes. Therefore, research at A-Sense will encompass four areas.

 Intelligent Screening Technology to Facilitate Rapid and Early Diagnosis

Even with significant adherence to evidence-based clinical guidelines, there has not been any decrease in the average age of autism diagnosis for children over the past decade, with the median age of diagnosis remaining at 55 months. Thus, one of the center’s priorities is developing and validating novel AI-powered screening tools for early detection of ASD across diverse populations, including infants, toddlers, and school-aged children. Derived approaches will focus on utilizing advanced statistical methods, machine learning algorithms, and natural language processing to analyze multi-dimensional and multi-modal human-based data to identify reliable behavioral markers and predictive indicators of ASD. Collaboration with experts in psychology, neuroscience, and education is integral to the development of these screening tools, ensuring their accuracy and effectiveness.

Personalized Intervention and Education

Behavioral and educational interventions play a crucial role in the development and well-being of children with autism, yet there are major limitations and challenges when it comes to providing such services to autistic individuals due to the limited availability of experts/therapists, the highly variable behavioral characters of autism, and the generic approach in applying state-of-the-art therapy and interventions, which in turn, makes tailored approaches nearly impossible. To address these challenges, ASC focuses on investigating personalized intervention approaches for the specific needs and characteristics of individuals with ASD, considering factors such as age, symptom severity, behaviors, cognitive factors, and co-occurring conditions. To improve accessibility and reach, A-Sense prioritizes innovative technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality, and e-learning platforms to deliver personalized interventions and education.

Piloting, Commercialization, and Implementation

The translation of research into products will serve the autism community at homes, clinics, centers, and schools. Specifically, pilot testing of prototypes will be conducted in real-world settings, and guided feedback from end-users and stakeholders will be accepted to iteratively enhance and improve the prototypes. Ultimately, ASC will focus on ensuring that developed solutions meet the needs of autistic individuals and their families while also addressing market demands and regulatory considerations, ultimately facilitating widespread adoption and impact.

Training and Capacity Building

Our center is committed to enhancing capacity building in autism technology by providing comprehensive educational and training opportunities for PhD students and postdoctoral researchers. Through strategic collaborations, hands-on research experiences, and access to state-of-the-art resources, we aim to cultivate the next generation of leaders in the field. By immersing students and postdocs in global collaborative projects and interdisciplinary initiatives, we foster innovation and encourage the development of cutting-edge solutions to complex challenges in the areas of autism diagnosis, intervention, and education. Through these training endeavors, our center not only advances scientific knowledge but also equips emerging scholars with the skills and expertise necessary to make meaningful contributions to the field and positively impact the lives of autistic individuals and their families.


Research Tracks

Over the next five years, A-Sense will focus on three tracks.

Track 1: Personalized Learning Through Ai-Based Behavioral Analytics

Children with autism often experience challenges in learning due to a wide range of difficulties including sensory sensitivities and challenges with attention, social communication, and engagement. To promote learning outcomes in autistic children, A-Sense will focus on developing intelligent methods to learn the unique challenges each child faces and devise systems to assess their learning. One of the major learning indicators is attention. Children with autism show atypical attention patterns. Many children with autism often find it difficult to pay attention or focus on things that do not interest them, while others may be paying attention, but in a non-traditional manner. Such characteristics present challenges to parents, therapists, and educators. Therefore, a primary focus at A-Sense will be the development of non-subjective methods to assess the attention of children with autism. Such information is crucial in developing targeted, personalized learning and intervention plans to optimize outcomes.

Track 2: AI-Enhanced Cognitive Function Assessment

Cognition assessments play a crucial role in evaluating individuals with autism. These assessments help clinicians diagnose and inform the choices of interventions. Such assessments can also inform decisions related to education and occupational placement. It also can inform intervention strategies and educational planning. A-Sense will work towards developing intelligent gamified methods for the assessment of cognition function. Preliminary work has begun on executive functioning, which focuses on a set of mental skills dealing with working memory, flexible thinking, and self-control (including emotion regulation)

Track 3: Early Screening Technology

Early screening for autism is of paramount importance as it facilitates early intervention. Research has steadily shown that early intervention leads to better outcomes for individuals with autism. The early years of life represent a critical period of brain development, during which neural circuits underlying social communication, language, and other cognitive functions are rapidly forming and refining. Early identification and intervention capitalize on the brain's plasticity and capacity for reorganization, maximizing the effectiveness of interventions and fostering more optimal developmental trajectories. Despite research efforts to develop better screening tools, there is a need for screening methods that are non-subjective to avoid misdiagnosis, rapid to facilitate realistic implementation, and dynamic and adaptive to encompass the unique attributes of people on the wide autism spectrum. Another challenge that hinders early diagnosis and intervention lies in the autism diagnosis pathway in many countries. Late referrals in the diagnosis pathway lead to late diagnosis, while unnecessary referrals congest it, leading to lengthy wait times, and ultimately contributing to late diagnosis in children. A-Sense will work with relevant stakeholders to utilize environmental scanning and Qatar Foundation’s Assessment Task Force (ATF) for comprehensive insights. The aim is to employ AI to identify challenges in the diagnostic pathway in Qatar and propose data-driven solutions from an operational level to optimize the diagnostic pathway for autism.


A-Sense is committed to sustaining strong community engagement and outreach. Not only does community outreach enable us to establish trust and rapport with the autism community, but it also allows us to uncover pressing issues within the autism community which inform our research priorities. In addition, strong community outreach activities connect us with individuals and families affected by autism, fostering trust and credibility, and encouraging participation in research studies. The co-founders of A-Sense have initiated workshops for the community and invited key stakeholders to serve on research advisory boards. In addition, outreach activities will encompass initiating bilateral workshops to promote global partnership and collaboration with key leading entities in ASD research and diagnosis. To achieve this, A-Sense will organize an international workshop on autism and sensing technologies in the first year, aimed at exploring collaboration opportunities with leading groups worldwide.

These efforts raise public awareness and foster a global dialogue about autism, encouraging widespread engagement and support. Through these channels, A-Sense can effectively share research findings, insights, and stories, reaching a broad audience across different regions and cultures.