Emerging Tech

VR Meets Autism: Real Life Seen Through Virtual Eyes

Written by Andrea Villegas, CoFounder

In Honor of World Autism Awareness Day and Autism Awareness Month we wanted to highlight a collection of neat uses of virtual reality for, about, or with people with Autism!

In our own research we’ve stumbled on a number of Virtual Reality simulations developed to replicate, or come close to replicating, the perspective of someone with Autism. The aim is to allow the user to experience the world through another person’s eyes, the idea being that VR is the closest we can come to seeing the lived experience of another.

Whether subjective experience can truly and accurately be replicated is a question*, these projects have nonetheless done much to try and arrive at these ends.

With this month being a month of awareness and sharing, we’d like to share with you some fun, interesting, and thought-provoking virtual reality experiences developed for, about, or with people with Autism.

  • First is one you may have experienced before, The Party. The Party is a short 360 film of a surprise birthday party, from the perspective of a teenage girl. Through the girl’s first-person narrative we catch a glimpse of her thoughts as she watches party-goers and as people approach her throughout inviting her to participate. Also interesting is that the film is from a girl’s perspective, as boys are 4x more likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls.

Best viewed in a headset or on your phone, click here to watch: The Party

  • Along similar lines is the 360 experience Too Much Information, developed through the help and direction of people on the autism spectrum. This short film shows the first-person perspective of the sensory sensitivity some autistic people experience, simulated through the creative use of auditory and visual effects. As stimuli and anxiety mount, we can hear the child’s breathing shorten and visuals fade, where you, the observer, are pushed to feel the same.

Also best viewed in a headset or phone with headphones, click here to watch: Too Much Information

Read more about this here:
Work in progress: An inside look at autism’s job boom
  • Finally, if you haven’t listened to it yet, check out our interview with Kent Bye on the Voices of VR podcast! Andy and Annie go over what we at BehaviorMe do to help teach independent living skills to children with autism. Independent living skills are considered ‘behavioral cusps’, a particular skill set that allows the individual to access further reinforcers from their environment. In other words, it’s a skill set that enhances your independence and your quality of life, such as walking, talking, writing, or in the case of one our simulations, Pedestrian Safety Skills.
Listen and read more here: Voice of VR

All in all, we are so excited to see so many organizations working on such valuable projects.

Join us this month in sharing these efforts or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter to learn more!

*We want to note that Autism Spectrum Disorder is just that, a spectrum, and people with Autism may display a wide variety of abilities and disabilities. The experiences and information detailed above may not apply to all people with Autism, and to state as such would be a disservice.

Posted by Andrea Villegas, 0 comments