Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 37, Issue 3, pp 589–600 | Cite as

Using Virtual Environments for Teaching Social Understanding to 6 Adolescents with Autistic Spectrum Disorders

  • Peter Mitchell
  • Sarah Parsons
  • Anne Leonard
Original Paper


Six teenagers with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) experienced a Virtual Environment (VE) of a café. They also watched three sets of videos of real cafés and buses and judged where they would sit and explained why. Half of the participants received their VE experience between the first and second sets of videos, and half experienced it between the second and third. Ten naïve raters independently coded participants’ judgments and reasoning. In direct relation to the timing of VE use, there were several instances of significant improvement in judgments and explanations about where to sit, both in a video of a café and a bus. The results demonstrate the potential of Virtual Reality for teaching social skills.


Virtual reality Single-user virtual environments Autism Asperger’s syndrome Social understanding 



This research was funded by the Shirley Foundation. Many thanks to the pupils and staff from Rosehill School, Nottingham, U.K. Thanks also to the National Autistic Society, U.K., the rest of the “AS Interactive” research team, and to Thusha Rajendran for comments on an earlier draft. More information about the project can be found at


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PsychologyUniversity of NottinghamNottinghamUK
  2. 2.School of EducationUniversity of BirminghamBirminghamUK

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