Article

VIRTUAL REALITY THERAPY FOR HIGH FUNCTIONAL AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER IN IMPROVING SOCIAL, COGNITIVE AND SELF-CARE SKILLS USING AUTICARE

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Abstract

Background: Advances in Virtual Reality (VR) technologies provide new opportunities for developing treatments for key behaviors associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) that promote advancement towards optimum results. Progress in Virtual Reality technologies provides better and effective opportunities for developing treatments for core behaviours associated with High Functional Autism. Auticare is an XR-AI based Assistive Technology Platform that aids the user to improve socio-cognitive, self-care skills and facilitates special education through virtual reality therapy under the supervision of the clinical therapists. Objective: The primary object of the present pilot study was to explore the feasibility of using the product Auticare among school-aged children with high functioning autism in hospitals and special education settings. The second objective of the study was to explore cognitive, social and self-care aspects designed to use among the autistic population and to observe whether there was any change in score levels from initial sessions to the final session in self-care and socio-cognitive skills. Method: A total of 5 participants (ages range from 8 to 10 years) were chosen for the present pilot study from National Intitute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Thrissur. The participants chosen were given training sessions using Auticare in different cognitive, social and self-care scenarios through virtual reality environment along with other therapies under the supervision of the occupational therapists over a period of 6 months. Results: All five participants were much eager to attend virtual reality training and therapy sessions than other modes of therapy. The participants were much enthusiastic to attend the training sessions in virtual reality and also no participants in the present study dropped out until the end of the study. Based on the data obtained, all five participants allowed the headset to be placed over the participant’s head and participants showed considerable improvement in virtual reality therapy sessions. Additionally, comparing the response of the participants’ pre and post sessions suggested positive changes in participant skills related to prolonged cognitive skills, social and self-care skills. Also, the participants were observed to be less anxious when in closed spaces as they were trained in a virtual reality environment. Conclusions: The present study suggests that the virtual reality scenarios in Auticare have no harmful effects on children and is well accepted by children with high functioning autism. Also, the preliminary finding suggests that the training in virtual reality scenarios using Auticare improves the user’s social, cognitive and self-care skills.

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Neurohab: a platform for virtual training of daily living skills in autism spectrum disorder
  • M Simões
  • S Mouga
  • F Pedrosa
  • P Carvalho
  • G Oliveira
  • M C Branco
Simões, M.; Mouga, S.; Pedrosa, F.; Carvalho, P.; Oliveira, G.; Branco, M.C. Neurohab: a platform for virtual training of daily living skills in autism spectrum disorder. Procedia Technol. 2014, 16, 1417-1423.