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PsychologyOur news, events & seminars

Authenticity in Virtual Reality for Autism: reassessing assumptions and rethinking research directions Seminar

15:00 - 16:00
30 November 2016
University of Southampton, Highfield Campus, Building 44 (Shackleton), Room 3095

For more information regarding this seminar, please telephone Sue McNally on 02380 595150 or email .

Event details

Virtual Reality (VR) technologies have shown potential for learning and assessment for children, adolescents, and adults with autism. Much of the research in this area has taken a conceptual stance of veridicality; that is, that VR offers promise because it can provide authenticity and levels of realism alongside stimulus or environmental control, or both, which may first facilitate learning and the generalization of skills to the real world, and secondly can provide experimental contexts with strong ecological validity for assessment. This talk raises questions about the assumption of veridicality of VR for autism research by examining research literature that has used VR to support learning and to investigate social responding. The conclusions suggest there is a need for the field to systematically examine the different factors that influence responding in VR in order to understand when, and under what circumstances, the responses of individuals with autism can be considered appropriately authentic. There are also opportunities for thinking more radically about research directions by focusing on the strengths and preferences of people with autism, and promoting more participatory and inclusive approaches to research.

Speaker information

Professor Sarah Parsons,Sarah Parsons is Professor of Autism and Inclusion within Southampton Education School at the University of Southampton. Sarah joined the School in 2011. She has significant research experience in disability related projects and particular interests in the use of innovative technologies for children with autism, the views and experiences of disabled children and their families, evidence-based practices in autism, and research ethics relating to children and young people. Sarah is especially interested in working in collaboration with others in the context of participatory design and inclusive research. Following a PhD in developmental psychology at the University of Nottingham, Sarah has led and managed research encompassing a range of methodological and analytical approaches, using qualitative and quantitative techniques, and is skilled in the development and application of child-centred methodologies for accessing the views of children with special educational needs. Sarah is regularly invited to national and international conferences to talk about her research including invitations to Russia, Kazakhstan, Monaco, Spain, Sweden and France.

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