Autism spectrum disorder, also known as ASD, impacts communication and social interaction. Since it's a spectrum disease, it impacts people in different ways or different conditions. Some people have difficulties with verbal communication and concentration, while others can't speak, but communicate nonverbally. Many people with autism are enthusiastic and knowledgeable about their hobbies and interests, and stick to routines that provide a rigid structure to life.
Virtual reality has positively impacted people with ASD’s lives, especially by allowing them to convey their experience and let others “see” their perspective, such as the Beholder VR project. However, we wanted to use this technology to help autistic people prepare for situations that could be stressful. Virtual environments can display an encounter that involves stressors of a student and can help them tackle it without directly putting them in that situation. For example, a fake audience of 5-6 people can be displayed through the VR lens to help the student with public speaking, which many autistic people struggle with because of the anxiety that can come with the disorder. This number can gradually increase until they are comfortable with a larger audience.
Many neurotypical people use the media to learn about ASD and form their stereotypes based on of what is shown on the media. Due to the historically inaccurate representation in TV shows, books, and the news, people with autism are sometimes associated with shame or isolation, which should never be the case. Our goal here is to overcome these social stigmas by bringing together a community where we can all learn and grow. We can do this by sharing autistic stories and experiences to get a personal accounts of how autism brings a new perspective to the world.