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

Bradley, Ryan; Newbutt, Nigel

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


Ryan Bradley

Nigel Newbutt
Senior Lecturer in Digital Education


© 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited. Purpose: 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. 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 the education of autistic individuals. The paper aims to discuss these issues. Design/methodology/approach: A systematic search of electronic databases focussing on empirical studies on the use of VR-HMD for children and adults on the autism spectrum was undertaken. Findings: 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. Research limitations/implications: 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. Originality/value: 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.


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.

Journal Article Type Review
Acceptance Date Apr 10, 2018
Online Publication Date Jul 13, 2018
Publication Date Sep 17, 2018
Deposit Date Apr 11, 2018
Publicly Available Date Jul 27, 2018
Journal Journal of Enabling Technologies
Print ISSN 2398-6263
Electronic ISSN 2398-6263
Publisher Emerald
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 12
Issue 3
Pages 101-113
Keywords Virtual Reality, Autism, Education, Head-Mounted Display
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : This is the author’s accepted manuscript. The final published version is available here:


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