Virtual Travel Training for Autism Spectrum Disorder: Proof-of-Concept Interventional Study.



BACKGROUND Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impairments in social interaction and repetitive patterns of behavior, which can lead to deficits in adaptive behavior. In this study, a serious game was developed to train individuals with ASD for an important type of outdoor activity, which is the use of buses as a means of transportation. OBJECTIVE The aim of this study was to develop a serious game that defines a "safe environment" where the players became familiar with the process of taking a bus and to validate if it could be used effectively to teach bus-taking routines and adaptive procedures to individuals with ASD. METHODS In the game, players were placed in a three-dimensional city and were submitted to a set of tasks that involved taking buses to reach specific destinations. Participants with ASD (n=10) underwent between 1 to 3 training sessions. Participants with typical development (n=10) were also included in this study for comparison purposes and received 1 control session. RESULTS We found a statistically significant increase in the measures of knowledge of the process of riding a bus, a reduction in the electrodermal activity (a metric of anxiety) measured inside the bus environments, and a high success rate of their application within the game (93.8%). CONCLUSIONS The developed game proved to be potentially useful in the context of emerging immersive virtual reality technologies, of which use in therapies and serious games is still in its infancy. Our findings suggest that serious games, using these technologies, can be used effectively in helping people with ASD become more independent in outdoor activities, specifically regarding the use of buses for transportation.


Autism Spectrum Disorder,bus.,serious games,travel train,virtual reality,virtual reality therapy


JMIR serious games, Vol. 6, #1, pp. 5-5 2018


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