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Autism and virtual reality head-mounted displays: A state of the art systematic review

Bradley, Ryan; Newbutt, Nigel


Ryan Bradley

Nigel Newbutt
Senior Lecturer in Digital Education


The use of virtual reality (VR) technologies in the education of autistic children has been a focus of research for over two decades. It is argued that this form of technology can provide authentic ‘real world’ contexts that target social and life skills training in safe, controllable and repeatable virtual environments (VE). The development of affordable VR Head-mounted displays (HMD), such as Google cardboard and Oculus Rift, has seen a renewed interest in their use for a wide range of applications, including educating and teaching of autistic individuals. A systematic search of electronic databases focusing on empirical studies on the use of VR-HMD for children and adults on the autism spectrum was undertaken. A review of the literature identified a limited number of studies in this field characterised by differences in the type of application, technology used and participant characteristics. Whilst there are some grounds for optimism, more research is needed on the use of this technology within educational settings to ensure robust recommendations can be made on the implementation, use and sustainability of this approach. This paper is the first to consider the evidence-base for the use of VR-HMD technology to support the needs of the autistic population.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Oct 1, 2018
Journal Journal of Enabling Technologies
Print ISSN 2398-6263
Publisher Emerald
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 12
Issue 3
Pages 101-113
Institution Citation Bradley, R., & Newbutt, N. (2018). Autism and virtual reality head-mounted displays: A state of the art systematic review. Journal of Enabling Technologies, 12(3), 101-113.
Keywords Virtual Reality, Autism, Education, Head-Mounted Display
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : This is the author’s accepted manuscript. The final published version is available here:


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