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Using Virtual Interactive Training Agents (ViTA) with Adults with Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities


Conversational virtual human (VH) agents are increasingly used to support role-play experiential learning. This project examined whether a Virtual Interactive Training Agent (ViTA) system would improve job interviewing skills in individuals with autism and developmental disabilities (N = 32). A linear mixed model was employed to evaluate adjusted least square mean differences of means scores on the Marino Interview Assessment Scale (MIAS) across different time points. The mean score of MIAS over all questions increased between the first ViTA session and the final face-to-face interview. Participants developed the ability to identify strengths, self-promote, self-advocate, answer situational questions, and respond to behavioral/social questions as measured by multiple evaluations using the MIAS.

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This research was funded by the Dan Marino Foundation, a Google Impact Challenge Grant, and FIU Embrace.

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Authors and Affiliations



SLB, TB, AR, MT contributed to the drafting of the manuscript, review and edits of all subsequent manuscripts. SLB, KE, and TL completed the data analysis, results, drafting of the initial manuscript, review and edits of all subsequent manuscripts, and publication preparation. RA, TB, and MP collected the initial data and consulted regarding the structure of the analysis. KE and TL assisted with the revised statistical analyses, results, and tables.

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Correspondence to Shanna L. Burke.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study. Data were analyzed as secondary data; in a de-identified, anonymous fashion, in which researchers outside of DMF have no knowledge of the participants’ identities.

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Burke, S.L., Bresnahan, T., Li, T. et al. Using Virtual Interactive Training Agents (ViTA) with Adults with Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities. J Autism Dev Disord 48, 905–912 (2018).

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  • Virtual human
  • Virtual interactive training agent
  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Intellectual disability
  • Developmental disability
  • Employment interviews