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The Latest Trends Of VR Applications Among Adolescents With ASD

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It seems that the there is a strong trend of creating new technological equipment and most of the studies seems to be pilot studies of new programs or applications using the newest VR or VE technology. Therefore the research focusing the effectiveness of these interventions as rehabilitation or training tool still remains very limited and makes it difficult to determine the recommended interventions and should be interpreted cautiously. The technology and the use of virtual reality has been developing strongly after 2010 and it is still very new and novel field of research. These factors influence the sample sizes of research, thus diminishing reliability and comparability. Most of the study designs were also experimental, pilot studies or without standardized evaluation methods. Much more research is also needed to evaluate the generalization of the improvements into real life. It was also surprising, that there seems to be only few research using VR technology in cognitive training among adolescents, even though this type of technology is of highly usage in this group.

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By providing options for stimulus control within a VE, the impact of specific component cognitive assets and limitations may be better isolated, assessed and rehabilitated. RIZZO ET AL 2004.

Despite of several technology-based interventions that aim to help the lives of children and adolescent with ASD, there has been rising questions about the risks for negative outcomes of health by the use of long screen times. The most recent studies are even raising up the question wheterer the extensive audiovisual screen time would be explaining the raising prevalence of autism spectrum disorders by justifying their theory with the distorted development of neuroplasticity (Heffler & Oestreicher, 2016). As the sensory exposure is hightened by increased audio and visual input the infants neuronal pathways are more suspecticle to specialization of non-social sensory processing than environmental exposures which are essential e.g. reading social cues. Major concerns raise over the fact that the various non-automatic cognitive efforts that is required to navigate or interact with the more demanding level VR technological devices could be a distraction within rehabilitation processes for those adolescents with cognitive difficulties, albeit, millennials use technology in a daily basis (Rizzo et al., 2004). Other researchers have been worried about the VE exposed childrens´ problems to differentiate real memories from VR-based memories (Segovia, & Bailenson, 2009). Despite of all the existing benefits of VR, there is still refining with the need for establishing the psychometric properties of VR interventions and assessment and the value for neuropsychology needs to be verified with normal and clinical populations via systematic empirical research (Parsons, 2017; Rizzo et al, 2004).

In conclusion, the purpose of the following mini-review was to determine the latest trends of VR applications among adolescents with ASD. Due to the very rapid development of the technical devices, the review was limited to last five years. In this study the accepted articles were very limited and the size samples were small. According to Newbutt et al (2017) the research with individuals with ASD has been focusing on helping functional, social, personal and vocational skills. In the ASD literature younger school-aged children have been in the spotlight of early interventions and rehabilitation services but surprisingly less focus has been pointed on adolescent research and services which was also proved in the large review of evidence-based practices used for children, youth and young adults, which was clearly visible at this review as well (Wong et al, 2014). Virtual reality applications seems still to be quite novel way for using cognitive rehabilitation, but for sure in time the use of technology will be more used also in the health care sector. In good and bad, neuropsychologists have to be ready for the digitalization and new way of thinking. In the future, will there be naturally more education for psychologists, that cover wider areas of technological understanding, like computer sciences?


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