Exploring Innovations: Virtual Reality & Wearable Technology for Autism Support

May 17th

By: Jazabelle Lausell

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?: 

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurological and developmental disorder that impacts how people behave, learn, communicate, and interact with others. There are five different types of autism including Asperger’s syndrome, Rett Syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, Pervasive developmental disorder (PDD-NOS), and Autistic disorder. Autism spectrum disorder affects around one in every 36 children, according to estimates from the CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network.

How Technology is Impacting Autism?: 

Technology plays a pivotal role in our lives because it is always evolving and has become woven into our daily routines. Driving, using smartphones, education, healthcare apps, wearable technology, financing, are some examples of how technology is used in a person’s everyday life. Technology can also be a valuable resource for people with autism, providing specialized support to meet their specific needs and difficulties such as augmentative alternative communication for those who are nonverbal and need help expressing themselves whether it is through picture boards or through speech generating devices. 

Also, there are devices which allow for early intervention services in support of people with autism. Early intervention electronic technologies facilitate the assessment of developmental milestones, the delivery of therapeutic interventions, and the monitoring of progress across time. 

Biggest Technological Trends Expected in the Future for People with Autism:

Technological developments have been crucial in the field of autism spectrum disorder interventions, as they help individuals to receive individualized support based on their specific needs. While there are multiple technological trends that can improve the lives of people with autism, wearable and sensory integration technology, as well as virtual reality and augmented reality therapies, are two cutting-edge breakthroughs that show great promise for improving the lives of people with autism. 

Virtual reality and augmented reality interventions provide realistic, immersive experiences in a controlled setting that stimulate real-world situations by generating visual and auditory stimuli. These technological developments have many purposes including sensory integration, exposure therapy, and social skills training. Additionally, exposure treatment using virtual reality enables people to progressively face and get over fears or phobias in a safe and regulated way. 

For example,  the Oculus Quest 2 is an independent virtual reality headset that provides realistic virtual experiences which is beneficial for people with autism because it offers a secure setting for activities involving sensory integration, exposure therapy, and social skills training. Hand tracking and spatial audio are two features that improve the immersive experience by enabling users to practice real-world events and interact with virtual settings. 

Also, the wearable, smartwatch Embrace2 gadget is made to track physiological signs of stress and seizures. It is helpful for people with autism since it offers immediate feedback on stress levels and suggests practices for relaxation or anxiety management. The smartwatch also integrates with a companion app, enabling caregivers to monitor and evaluate data, enabling proactive support and intervention techniques for autistic people.

These therapies offer a supportive framework for enhancing resilience and confidence, regardless of the phobia—whether it is of crowded places or strange surroundings. 

Wearable technology and sensory integration tools provide useful ways to deal with the specific sensory sensitivity issues and difficulties with emotional regulation that people with autism face. Moreover, weighted wearables, such blankets or vests, stimulate the body significantly with pressure, which has a relaxing effect and encourages the integration of senses. 

In sensory-rich situations, these wearables are intended to simulate the feeling of a hug or light pressure, which helps people with autism feel more centered and focused. Through the reduction of sensory distractions, these gadgets improve focus and increase the effectiveness of daily activities for individuals with autism.

In conclusion, the development of wearable and sensory integration technologies, along with virtual reality and augmented reality therapy, offers significant advances for assisting people with autism. By utilizing technology, they are being provided with the resources they need so they can overcome certain challenges they face.

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