28 Jun The benefits of virtual reality applied to people with autism
Autism is a non-progressive neurobehavioral condition of life that through social interaction and development language. It is a developmental disability that verbal and non-verbal communication and social interaction.
It is a complex disorder due to the variety of symptoms, now it is called Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). ASD becomes a wide range of communication skills with rigid and repetitive behaviors. Children and adults can present any combination of these behaviors in any degree of severity. People with the same diagnosis can act very differently from each other and have different social tasks.
TEA oscillates in severity from being a handicap that in some way limits a person to living a normal life and a disability. People with autism have problems communicating and understanding other people’s thoughts and emotions. This makes it very difficult for them to express themselves with words or through touch, facial expressions and gestures.
How to Use Virtual Reality to Educate Autistic Children
1. During the last two decades, there has been a great focus on research into the use of virtual reality (VR) technologies in the education of autistic children. The use of technology allows exposure in the “real world” to train social skills in a virtual environment (EV) controlled, repeatable and safe. The use of VR-HMD for children and adults on the autism spectrum has been the key focus of several studies categorized by differences in the type of application, technology used and characteristics of the participant.
2. While there are reasons to be optimistic, more research is needed on the use of this technology in educational settings to ensure that appropriate recommendations can be made about the implementation, use and sustainability of this approach. According to the study conducted by Didehbani (2016), Parsons & Cobb (2011) and Tzanavari (2015), there is evidence that suggests individualizing, rehearsing and repeating social scenarios in different contexts for the generalization of social skills learned in VE to the interactions of everyday life.
3. These studies usually cover screen media (eg, monitors / TV screens) or more immersive systems that involve projections of animations shown on the walls and ceilings of a screen space (Wallace et al., 2010). However, due to the positive results associated with these VRTs, there has been increasing interest in virtual reality headsets (HMD) as a form of VE for autistic groups as shown in Adjorlu et al., (2016); Newbutt et al., (2016). Research is now an emerging field in which to focus where: “the questions surrounding acceptability and practicality should be addressed quickly if we want to develop a sustainable research line around HMD and VRT for this specific population (autistic)” Newbutt et al. , (2016), p.3166.
4. In the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria, there are specific mentions of sensory problems that include: “odd responses to sensory information” and “hyper-or hypo-reactivity to sensory information or unusual interest in sensory aspects of the environment; as apparent indifference to pain / heat / cold, adverse response to specific sounds […] “(APA, 2013, p.50) These criteria, together with intensified visual / auditory stimuli that can be part of the VR experiences of the HMD, provide a timely need to investigate, with care, the use of HMD by autistic groups.
Due to limited evidence, more research is still needed with VR-HMD to have a stronger theoretical base. Especially those that include the use of a cellular device as a main tool. In addition, the potential of this technology to support the learning of children, youth and adults on the autism spectrum must take into account, with a variety of other approaches, that will be implemented by professionals, teachers and therapists and their use. It must be a tool that helps them make their life easier. HMD technologies have great potential because they can immerse an autistic patient in “real world” scenarios. It can be used for learning and evaluation of children, adolescents and adults on the autism spectrum. In addition, it has been shown that the devices used for VR-HMD are improving rapidly and are becoming easier for daily use.
As a disclaimer of Psious, we strongly recommend investigating alternative ways to treat autism, but we have some environments that may be useful for autistic patients. Environments such as the bar to practice social skills, any of the simulations of mindfulness to practice the approach or any environment that allows patients to describe their environment and communicate with the therapist.