A training workshop for guiding occupational therapy practice: use of environments in virtual reality for social skills training in autism
MetadataShow full item record
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that approximately 1 in 54 children in the U.S. is diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) (CDC, 2020). The prevalence of individuals diagnosed with or at-risk for ASD has increased over the past two decades (Baio et al., 2018). Impairments in social functioning, a central feature of ASD, have widespread effects on the lives and opportunities of individuals with this disorder (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). As a result, individuals with ASD are less satisfied with opportunities for social inclusion, physical well-being, and interpersonal relationships compared to individuals with intellectual disabilities (Arias et al., 2018). Technology-aided intervention may be used to reduce some of the barriers limiting access to social skills intervention. In particular, the technology-aided intervention can provide a highly motivating medium for the rehearsal of skills in a safe, controlled, and self-paced manner (Parsons & Beardon, 2000), allow for treatment programs to be implemented with high precision and fidelity with less variability, and reduce the cost of the intervention and other accessibility barriers (Ploog et al., 2013). VR has been studied extensively in training social skills for individuals diagnosed with ASD. With the flexibility and projected effectiveness that VR offers, it can provide more opportunities to learn and practice strategies for recognizing daily challenges that involve forming social relationships and related reasoning with more flexibility. VR provides a safer platform for people with ASD rather than practicing the social skill with actual people in a class or a group, it can be an excellent precursor for teaching these skills. There exists sufficient literature to provide evidence regarding the effectiveness of VR-based SST relevant for OT practice. However, the gap between the existing literature and method to integrate it in OT practice restrains OT practitioners to adopt and integrate VR in practice. Lack of comprehensive training designed specifically for OT practitioners to educate about the methods to implement, VR system selection for the priority population, and the theoretical base for implementation and use are some common barriers to using VR. To this end, this program is designed to empower OT practitioners to become efficient and confident in using this technology for addressing social skills deficits related to ASD. This is a professional development program to be delivered based on theory-driven approaches. The program is comprised of a training workshop accompanied by a hands-on practice element to provide OT practitioners with the avenue to learn, practice, and evaluate their current practices and knowledge regarding VR. Acquiring this training in using VR-based approaches will not only prepare therapists to confidently provide just the right challenge to the clients with autism according to their needs but also enhance the scope of individual OT practice.
RightsAttribution 4.0 International