Visit StickyLock

Autistic Adults May Experience Anxiety and Fear Reduction with Virtual Reality

A recently conducted pilot study produced results indicating that using a combined treatment mode involving cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and virtual reality environments brought about considerable improvement by reducing the anxiety and fear levels of autistic adults.

The study was recently released in the Autism in Adulthood journal. The combined treatment form involved the use of the virtual reality (VR) to create category-wise exposure of the individuals to anxiety and fear-inducing experiences. 8 adults in the 18-57 age group, who participated in the study, were shown an educational feature that deals with anxiety management. Four other sessions were also held, which exposed the participants to immersive VRE-based fear-inducing stimuli. Following these sessions, each of the participants was exposed to more realistic phobias and fears. The study researchers evaluated the state of progress of the participants, six weeks and six months after the final VRE session.

The study results indicated that 5 among 8 of the participants responded to the therapy mode, and exhibited considerable improvements in regards to anxiety levels and fear management in their day to day lives. The results indicate that the virtual reality environment was successful in relieving anxieties and fears faced by adults. It indicates that this immersive form of treatment can prove to be quite promising for autistic adults.

In recent years, other research relating to VRE has signified its effectiveness for treating children afflicted by autism spectrum disaster (ASD). Yet, further research studies have to be conducted to reveal more on this subject.

Virtual reality is a prospective tool for the treatment of fears and phobias. About 50 percent of ASD-afflicted adults generally struggle with fear and anxiety regularly, thus signifying the fundamental importance of seeking out effective treatments. Almost everyone has phobias related to insects, animals, crowded public spaces or open areas.

A technique labelled as ‘graded exposure therapy’, which is a proven and well-structured phobia treatment method for people across demographics, might not actually be too effective for people who are affected by autism spectrum disaster.

Individuals with ASD generally face obstacles with conceptualisation and using their imaginative abilities. Hence, graded exposure therapy techniques cannot be relied upon by such people. Moreover, real-world exposure of afflicted individuals to this treatment form may result in an unprecedented rise in anxiety. This renders the treatment method as completely effective.

In contrast, VRE treatment and its features are being considered as indispensable for the treatment purposes of anxiety and fear among autistic adults. The VRE method can be used to effectively create specific fears with the use of computer-generated content. This particular approach sharply reduces the reliability of individuals on imaginative powers and abstract thinking. Virtual reality environments also ensure full-fledged command over the level and nature of exposure, to raise anxiety levels in an incremental and step-by-step manner. It is safer and more effective for administering on the individuals.

The Blue Room VRE technology form was used to conduct this study, which did not require participants to wear any headgear. The study is being considered of prime importance in terms of future research.



Join the Discussion

Visit StickyLock
Back to top