Virtual Reality (VR) could help autistic individuals improve real life interactions, suggests a new study from the University of Texas.
The study hypothesised that VR could allow autistic individuals to practice social situations in a low pressure environment. Autistic individuals can be overwhelmed in real life interactions which are often very stressful.
The study involved 20 participants between the ages of 7 and 16. All of the participants are high-functioning autistics individuals. Through VR experiences, the participants were able to practice different social situations while learning strategies to cope with these interactions.
Two clinicians guiding the study interacted with the participants as virtual avatars. One of the clinicians would play the role of someone that the autistic individual and to interact with. This could be a classmate, a teacher, or other person, that a young person would need to converse with in real life. The other clinician took on the role of a coach, providing strategies to the participants.
The results of the study have been positive with the participants showing an increased ability to understand the perspective of other people. Participants also showed improved problem solving and emotional recognition abilities.