Virtual Conversation Simulator for Adults with Autism

March 21, 2011

Simulated interactions in which adults with autism converse with a virtual partner may help them develop better social interaction skills.

Simulated interactions in which adults with autism converse with a virtual partner may help them develop better social interaction skills, according to a novel study presented in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, a peer-reviewed journal published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.

More than half of individuals diagnosed with autism have normal intellectual capabilities yet struggle in social and work environments because of their severely impaired abilities to interact and converse with others. Cheryl Trepagnier, PhD, and Corinne Bell, MA, (The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC), and Dale Olsen, PhD, and Laura Boteler, (SIMmersion LLC, Columbia, MD), report that adults with autism who participated in a prototype conversation simulation program responded positively to the experience, supporting the quality and usefulness of the simulation.

In the article, "Virtual Conversation Partner for Adults with Autism," the authors describe a simulated environment in which participants with autism who are not otherwise intellectually disabled interact with virtual partners, are given onscreen dialog options, and are scored on their ability to initiate, maintain, and conclude a pleasant conversation on a variety of topics.

"Over the past two decades, simulations have proven effective at helping people with a variety of physical and mental disorders. This new application could make it so many with Autism Spectrum Disorder could function more effectively in the larger world," says Brenda K. Wiederhold, PhD, MBA, BCIA, Editor-in-Chief of Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, from the Interactive Media Institute, San Diego, CA.

Source: Mary Ann Liebert, Inc./Genetic Engineering News