For young people with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), everyday settings such as a busy classroom, shopping centre or public transport, can cause anxiety and phobias.
The Blue Room is a virtual reality treatment that provides a controlled space for young people to face these scenarios. During the treatment, trained specialists help patients through situations within a personalized virtual reality space.
Many autistic people have difficulty creating scenarios using their imagination, which can make treatment of phobias difficult. Additionally, phobias and anxieties differ greatly from one person to the next. This is where the Blue Room comes in.
We have created over 50 scenarios which we can alter for each patient’s needs. These are used to help patients overcome their anxieties of social interactions, objects or animals. Examples of available scenarios include dogs, wasps/bees, lifts, fear of the dark, flying, school, walking into rooms, getting onto crowded public transport, crossing a bridge or talking to a shop assistant.
The Blue Room is a purpose-built virtual reality space built for people with ASD. Besides the wide range of scenarios it can simulate, it tackles many of the challenges of treating people with ASD. Each scenario can gradually increase both the complexity and noise level, allowing for controlled exposure – which cannot be achieved in real life.
Virtual reality headsets and goggles can distress people with ASD. Instead, Blue Room provides a room-sized space by projecting onto the walls, ceiling and floor. Patients have full control of their movement using a touch tablet, letting them progress at a pace they are comfortable with.
Overwhelming sensory input is a common problem for people with ASD in many everyday situations. The Blue Room provides safe exposure to these situations, as each scenario can be changed to reduce or increase the visual complexity and noise levels of the space.
Controlled trials have shown that 40% of the children treated at the Blue Room showed growth in coping with a real life situation after just 2 weeks. This grew to 45% after 6 months. These results are similar to other methods and the team is focused on how to further increase the rate of positive responses.
In a separate trial, the Blue Room treated eight autistic adults. Each participant completed four 20-minute sessions. After six months, five of the adults reported ongoing improvements related to their phobia.
Blue Room has been developed by a team at Newcastle University, utilising technology developed by Third Eye Technologies. In the UK alone, around 150,000 children are thought to have ASD. The NHS is offering the Blue Room as a treatment method for children with autism aged from 7-17.
Purchase the ILO today to directly support the widespread use of our technology, and ensure a better future for those with ASD.