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Vineeta Pandey, OTD, OTR

Lori Vaughn, OTD, OT, OTR


Impairments in social functioning greatly hinder children and youth with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) from responding appropriately and adapting to various social situations. As a result, individuals with ASD get fewer opportunities for social inclusion, physical well-being, and forming interpersonal relationships. Virtual reality (VR) has been studied extensively in this area, where a large body of evidence shows that VR is a promising tool for social skills training (SST) in individuals 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 associated reasoning. This paper discusses the gap between the effectiveness of VR-based SST and its adoption in occupational therapy (OT) practice. There is a significant dearth of resources for the development of occupational therapists to effectively administer these interventions. Such resources that summarize empirically supported VR interventions to teach social skills to people with autism would be very valuable in training therapists who wish to employ them. Using theory-driven approaches, this paper intends to empower occupational therapists in becoming efficient and confident in using this technology for addressing social skills deficits in people with ASD.