Virtual reality in education of neurodiverse children

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Benefits of VR/AR for Neurodiverse Children

  • Practice social skills.
  • Improve attention.
  • Learn at their own pace.
  • Examples of VR/AR Games and Simulations for Neurodiverse Children
    • Imagination Station.
    • Virtual Hospital.
  • Challenges of Using VR/AR Technology in the Education of Neurodiverse Children
    • Sensitivity to a headset or virtual environment.
    • Need for proper training for educators.

Benefits of VR/AR for Neurodiverse Children

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology can revolutionize how we teach neurodiverse children. VR simulations can help children practice public speaking and eye contact and address phobias through virtual exposure therapy.

For example, a 2019 Forbes article states that VR simulations can help children with ASD practice social skills. The Center for Brain Health and the Child Study Center at Yale’s School of Medicine constructed social simulations for teens on the autism spectrum to help them prepare for adult life, and the participants found them helpful. The simulations can benefit children with difficulty imagining dialogues or social interactions.

VR/AR technology could also help children with ADHD focus their attention. For example, the game “Imagination Station” helps children with ASD learn about emotions by using VR to create a safe and controlled environment. The game is designed to be engaging and interactive, which can help children with ADHD stay focused.

In addition to social skills and attention, VR/AR technology can also help children with SLD learn at their own pace. For example, the simulation “Virtual Hospital” helps children with SLD learn about the human body by providing a 3D, interactive experience. The simulation can be customized to the child’s needs, which can help them learn more effectively.

VR/AR Games

Alter Learning game Flores, designed in collaboration with Dr. Simona Rainis, is designed for children on the autism spectrum to practice executive function and planning skills and to collaborate with other children who are also growing flowers in the game. Dr. Rainis works at ERSA, an Italian agency for rural development, and brings her agricultural knowledge to the table.

Examples of VR/AR Games and Simulations for Neurodiverse Children

Several VR/AR games and simulations have been designed specifically for neurodiverse children. Some of these games and simulations include:

  • Imagination Station is a game that helps children with ASD learn about emotions. The game is designed to be engaging and interactive, and it uses VR to create a safe and controlled environment.
  • Virtual Hospital is a simulation that helps children with SLD learn about the human body. The simulation is 3D and interactive and can be customized to the child’s needs.
  • Flores is a game that helps children with autism practice executive function and planning skills. The game is designed to be challenging and rewarding, allowing children to collaborate with other children.

Challenges of Using VR/AR Technology in the Education of Neurodiverse Children

While VR/AR technology has the potential to be a valuable tool for the education of neurodiverse children, some challenges need to be addressed. One challenge is that some children may be sensitive to the headset or the virtual environment. It is essential to make sure that the technology is used in a safe and supportive way.

Another challenge is that educators must be adequately trained to use VR/AR technology effectively. This is important to ensure that the technology benefits the children.

Inclusive Classroom Environment

In addition, VR/AR technology can help teachers create a more inclusive classroom environment by providing a safe space for students with neurodiverse conditions such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and specific learning disorders (SLD). It can also help students with disabilities learn more engagingly by providing interactive experiences catering to their individual needs.

Conclusion

VR/AR technology has enormous potential in the education of neurodiverse children. It can provide a safe space for students with disabilities to learn and interact with their peers while catering to their needs. However, educators must receive proper training on how to use this technology effectively and that it is used in conjunction with other teaching methods.

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