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Virtual reality technology being used to treat individuals affected by developmental disabilities

Autistic individuals are gaining greater freedom with VR

Virtual reality (VR) as a technology form is expanding beyond gaming and making its mark in the domain of healthcare. Latest VR technology is now being used to make a significant different for those afflicted with developmental disabilities.

One of the notable VR developments in recent times was the VR1 virtual arcade, and it has to be acknowledged as an offering for not just dedicated gamers.

Mitchell Alexander, the co-founder of Autism XR Institute, spoke regarding the positive impact of VR1 on Nathan, his ten-year old autistic son.

Alexander’s son has coped with issues related to mixing socially and performing daily tasks that are easier for non-autistic people. Nathan has also struggled with travelling, as he had never boarded an airplane in his life.

Alexander and his wife were worried how the experience would go. Nathan liked the VR1 virtual reality experience which helped him go around the globe, and enjoy a Google Maps-based bird’s eye view or encounter a flight simulation with YouTube. Following several months of simulation sessions, Alexander booked plane tickets for Nathan.

Nathan was quite excited for the flight and on his way to the plane. According to Alexander, his son expressed that the experience felt similar to VR1. Nathan is an example of how VR1 and virtual reality in general is improving lives, as is evident to the Owner and Operator of VR1, Brendan Smythe.

Nathan using Virtual Reality

The technique used by VR1, known as Exposure Therapy, can be utilised for helping people who fear heights or have a phobia related to spiders, and children affected by autism. – Brendan Smythe

According to Smythe, virtual reality has created highly productive experiences for Nathan and many more individuals with autism.

Smythe remarked that past records point out the autistic mind’s passion with technology, as evident by some of the most exceptional game developers, designers and creators being autistic individuals.

In the case of Nathan, movie and travel simulators helped him overcome his fear and board the first flight of his life. Following these developments, Nathan could also improve his everyday skills like solving problems and socialising.

Smythe spoke regarding the improving situation of Nathan, saying that the youngster is now able to play a VR game called Budget Cuts, which involves interacting with a villainous character. While the game offers a fearful experience, Nathan can defend himself and solving the maze to unlock new areas. Smythe remarked that Nathan is getting quite comfortable with the game.

Autistic individuals are now experiencing similar benefits from VR like specialised therapy sessions that last for many hours. The participants get the feel of enjoying a game, and gain freedom from the stresses of real-life situations. VR is working as an advanced tool for treatment.

The efforts of the Autism XR Institute and VR1 are culminating in the development of concepts and tools to aid autistic individuals make the most of their lives.

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