Visit StickyLock

VR being utilised for assisting autistic individuals

VR simulations may help autistic people do real-world tasks

Virtual reality headsets are often connected with interactive video games; however, a University of Missouri researcher is employing them for something far more significant: assisting individuals with autism in navigating college campuses’ public transit systems.

A programme at the University of Cincinnati collaborated with MU researcher Noah Glaser—along with Matthew Schmidt, Associate Professor, University of Georgia, and associates—on two studies aimed at giving autistic individuals simulated training to practice taking a public bus to travel across a city.

Through the use of artificial intelligence (AI), the study team discovered that individuals with autism often have distinct experiences of their surroundings than their neurotypical counterparts, and that sensory processing issues in overstimulating circumstances frequently cause them to divert their attention and gaze patterns. These results open up new avenues for further investigation into how, by offering a safe environment for practice, virtual reality simulations might support autistic people in developing their sense of self and community involvement.

According to Glaser, Assistant Professor, MU College of Education and Human Development, the centre seeks to demonstrate how non-medical treatments might provide autistic individuals a greater sense of social comfort. Studies on autism are widely available in the medical field.

One research study looked at a group of young people with autism who were navigating the campus transportation system.

Glaser and colleagues developed a virtual reality simulation that is an exact reproduction of a university’s campus and shuttle system in order to collect data. They analysed how participants using the virtual reality headset attended to tangible items during their virtual trip across campus to the bus stop using an artificial intelligence method called computer vision, or the capacity for computers to recognise objects and make intelligent judgements. They next looked for any variations between that data and individuals who were neurotypical.

Glaser remarked that it is now well acknowledged that people who identify as neurodiverse often struggle with dealing with sensory processing, and that particular circumstances, such as waiting at a bus station at busy college grounds, may be very stressful and stressful.


Before individuals attempt the task in the actual world, it will be feasible to alter or minimise the additional stimuli in a secure, monitored setting if it is feasible to determine which objects had been most obstructing to neurologically diverse students alongside the way and what items they responded to the most.

During a guided trip to the virtual bus stop, an instructor modelled the abilities the participants would ultimately accomplish in real life as part of the virtual simulation.

Glaser remarked that the initiative gives people a thorough understanding of human-computer interaction through a user pool that are usually not participants in relevant debates. He highlighted that there is a need to conduct more research that involves neurodiverse persons to comprehend their interaction patterns with VR learning offerings. This needs to be done so that interventions can be stepped up in terms of accessibility.


According to Glaser, this study is just the beginning of the investigation into how artificial intelligence and virtual reality simulators might assist neurodiverse people in special education, intervention, and instructional design.

Join the Discussion

Visit StickyLock
Back to top