Vol. 32 No. 2 (2017)
Research Brief

Involving People with Autism in Development of Virtual World for Provision of Skills Training

Yurgos Politis
Michigan State University
  • Virtual Reality,
  • User involvement,
  • intellectual disability,
  • autism spectrum disorders,
  • participatory designs



This paper presents the development phase of the of the Virtual World that is going to be used by the Virtual Learning for People with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (VL4ASD) project, which aims to create training materials on conversation skills. This project is geared towards addressing the communication deficits of ASD populations, by exploring the extent to which the use of Virtual Reality (VR) could make an impact on the daily lives of people with those conditions and, thus, address a research gap. The initial results from the feedback sessions are positive towards using VR for training purposes. Feedback from both users and practitioners revealed that the training materials can be very beneficial to the target population.


The stated goal of this project of explaining the steps necessary to engage in effective and fruitful conversations for people with ASD through VR, could be helpful to these individuals in their social interactions on a one-to-one basis. A next iteration of the VR training programme should involve having conversations in a more complex group dynamic that would enhance group members’ self-confidence and self-esteem. Ultimately, this VR training would assist young adults with ASD in their pursuit of independent living by giving them the opportunity to gain work experience. This study, as a proof of concept, would open the door to developing training for other communication, life, academic and vocational skills, while this training would not only be useful for people with ASD, but the wider population.




Cet article présente la phase de développement du Monde Virtuel qui va être utilisé par la projet Apprentissage Virtuel pour les Personnes atteintes de Troubles du Spectre Autistique qui vise à créer des supports de formation aux compétences conversationnelles. Ce projet est conçu pour cibler les déficits de de communication des personnes présentant des troubles du spectre autistique (TSA) en explorant la mesure dans laquelle l’usage de la Réalité Virtuelle (RV) pourrait avoir un impact sur la vie quotidienne de ces personnes et, ainsi, combler une lacune de la recherche. Les premiers résultats des sessions de rétroaction sont positifs quant à l’usage de la RV à des fins de formation. Les retours des usagers comme des praticiens révèlent que les supports de formation peuvent être très bénéfiques à la population ciblée.


L’objectif visé par ce projet, consistant à expliquer les étapes nécessaires pour engager de manière efficaces et fructueuse les personnes ayant des TSA dans les conversations via la VR, pourrait aider ces individus dans leurs interactions sociales sur une base de communication individuelle. Une prochaine itération du programme de formation en RV devrait impliquer les conversations dans une dynamique plus complexe de groupe qui rehausserait la confiance et l’estime de soi des membres du groupe. Finalement, cette formation par la RV soutiendrait les jeunes adultes atteint de TSA dans leur recherche de vie indépendante en leur donnant l’opportunité d’obtenir une expérience de travail. Cette étude, en tant que preuve de concept, ouvrirait la porte au développement de formations pour d’autres compétences de communication dans la vie courante, académique ou professionnelle et pourrait ainsi ne pas seulement être utile aux personnes atteintes de TSA mais aussi à une plus large population.


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