Health Beat: Virtual reality treatment for autism
About one in 88 children suffers with autism, and more than a half-million people have autism or some form of the disorder. These people have difficulty interacting with others and expressing emotion. Now, a new virtual reality program could help.
Barry Thomas loves playing on the computer, but Thomas has autism and has trouble with social interaction.
"Barry still doesn’t really enjoy eye contact. He’s still not very comfortable," said Barry’s mother, Annie Thomas.
Autism impacts an area of the brain responsible for social interaction and communication skills, making it difficult to relate to others.
Researchers at Vanderbilt are developing a virtual reality computer program they hope will help.
"They showed us a face and situation and I basically had to guess the emotion," Thomas said.
Doctors can create characters that show certain emotions and situations and then monitor where the patient is having difficulty with recognizing that emotional expression.
"We want to measure the child’s reaction to these things, how do you measure through child’s ideas, and their body’s signals; physiological signals," Sarkar explained.
The hope is to help children and adults with autism learn emotion by improving eye contact and social engagement.
Thomas's social interaction is improving, which will help him focus on his dream of being a computer programmer.
You can go online for more information about participating in the study.
Copyright 2013 WFMZ. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Wilson man dead after chase, police-involved shooting
Police: Deaths of 2 men inside car a murder-suicide
Foul language may stop plans to rename ASD field for Andre Reed
Tractor trailer accident stops traffic on Route 422
Restaurant owners distraught over plans to condemn property
Thousands of dollars raised for man repeatedly mistaken for Eric Frein
Family makes plea for help to save their puppy
Police: 2 die in school shooting near Seattle
Elderly woman struck by car in parking lot, killed
Did Eric Frein drive away?