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Using VR to help children with autism

virtual reality

Virtual Reality (VR) has become an actual reality in offices and homes across the globes in the recent years. Donning a headset for a presentation with clients or for a rollercoaster simulator at home with our children is now rather commonplace. But did you know that one area where VR is making a real difference is children with autism?

Children with autism can be affected in different ways; they deal with verbal and non-verbal communication challenges, social, sensory and attention issues every day. Those with autism and their families and carers can often face a lot of misunderstandings about having and living with autism.

Research has been carried out over the last decade into the use of VR technologies and users with autism. VR provides several answers for some of the challenges they may face. The technology can help to develop hand-eye coordination, allows children to develop socially and ‘experience’ real world situations in a controlled and safe environment. The apps and games that can be downloaded onto the headsets can also provide a form of relief and escapism for both the children and their parents.

As a business, Mobius loves the power of VR and you will often find the team testing out new kit and applications – all in the name of research of course! We wanted to share our passion for VR with our local community – we have previously hosted a workshop for a local school at our VR Warehouse. This time we wanted to find a way of sharing it further and to help those that could benefit from this technology.

We have partnered with two local Autism charities; Autism Berkshire and ASD Family Help, who offer support, advice, and activities for individuals with autism, their families, and their carers. We have been donating headsets loaded with fun games, skills-based apps, and relaxing mindfulness apps for the charities to distribute to their young members.

When Britain faced its first lockdown in March children found themselves out of the classroom and at home. The novelty for some children was a welcome relief compared to the pressure they often felt in the classroom.However, as it did for all of us, this novelty soon worse off and left many children feeling anxious and bored – especially those with autism.

‘Our young people are really enjoying this creative and time absorbing idea. They all have a learning difficulty or autism and many struggle with the stress and anxiety around lockdown. They are keen to try the new technology and it has really helped them to engage with others and distract them from other worries they currently have.’ Rachael from ASD Family Help told us.

‘The headsets reduced stress during lockdown and enabled them to feel empowered and in control when the world around them is more confusing than usual.

We believe going forward, our young people will continue to flourish, not only because this can help alleviate anxieties and will continue to give them a safe place to escape to, but it encourages them to have different interests and experiences and provides an opportunity to bring our young people, staff and volunteers together in the excitement and uniqueness of using Virtual Reality!’

If you, or anyone you know, works with children that would benefit from the use of Virtual Reality, then please get in touch – we’d love to help as many children, their families and carers as we can.

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