Virtual reality helps autistic children tackle phobias

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With the blue room, a child and a psychologist sit together in a small room, which has animation projected onto all four of its walls. Image: Newcastle University

One tool that is being embraced by therapists, counselors, teachers, parents and their children to help those with autism to better communicate and connect with others and the world around them is virtual reality. It is also being used to help others without autism to understand what living with the condition means. Many argue that there is no other medium that comes as close to putting you in someone else’s shoes as VR.

[A] recent study examined the effect of using immersive therapy to treat phobias in autistic children. The research was conducted in the Blue Room, an experience which was developed by specialists at Newcastle University, working alongside innovative technology firm Third Eye NeuroTech.

Related article:  Pregnancy complications linked to higher risk of autism

“For many children and their families, anxiety can rule their lives as they try to avoid the situations which can trigger their child’s fears or phobia,” says Professor Jeremy Parr, who led the study.

The research involved a controlled and randomized trial of 32 children aged between 8-14. The results showed that 25 percent of the group experienced an alleviation in the experience of the phobia two weeks after the treatment ended. This increased to 38 percent after six months.

Read full, original post: How Virtual Reality Can Help Those With Autism

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