Newcastle University in the UK has developed a virtual reality room that can help people with autism face their fears from a safe environment. Many autistic people develop such acute phobias that both they and their families do their best to try to avoid the situations that cause them, which can be as everyday events as getting on a bus or going shopping.
The study, published by the publication PLOS ONE, has tested this new methodology on children aged between 7 and 13 years. The Blue Room, in which it is not necessary to use glasses or headphones since it works with projections on the walls, allows them to use a tablet to control their movement while the parents observe from outside. Dr. Morag Maskey comments that one of the children was so afraid to go shopping that whenever he did, he walked behind his parents with his hood on, so they recreated the store of a gas station in the Blue Room where the child had to pick up a newspaper.
“With the help of a psychologist who was with him in the ward, the boy was able to control his anxiety through breathing and stretching exercises. Then he was able to increase his self-confidence over four sessions, until he got to have a conversation with the avatar in charge of the store.”
Now this child is able to go shopping with his friends.