The support of people with autism must be preceded by an attempt to understand their different way of perceiving the world and the needs associated with it. Stress, anxiety and symptoms of depression are the actual problems faced by people with autism spectrum disorders. Virtual relaxation with VR TierOne GO can contribute to improved well-being of people with autism.
What is autism?
Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder, which means that the development of a person with autism is different from the typical one. The symptoms of autism can vary, they occur in different intensities and combinations. People with autism are also referred to as people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Autism may have different presentations. Regardless of age and severity of symptoms, autism affects the functioning of the individual. Symptoms of autism concern 3 areas:
- social interactions (difficulties in establishing interpersonal relationships),
- communication (verbal and non-verbal communication disorders),
- behaviour (inflexibility of behaviour, repetitiveness of activity).
Symptoms from these areas belong to the so-called autistic triad. Most people with autism spectrum disorders have sensory processing disorders – hypersensitivity or reduced sensitivity to sensory stimuli (e.g. sound, light, touch). People with autism may avoid or seek stimulating stimuli. Autism is not a disease, but its symptoms cause difficulties in everyday life, which is why people affected by it require therapy.
Depression, anxiety, and stress in people with autism
The democratic nature of depression is often emphasized, and we already know that it can affect everyone. People with ASD belong to the group of people particularly exposed to symptoms of depression and anxiety disorders. The symptoms of depression coincide with the symptoms of autism, they are concealed behind them, which is why they are sometimes difficult to diagnose. People with autism feel emotions just like neurotypical people, but the way of demonstrating their emotions can be different. Bad mood can be manifested by excitement. Overstimulation can lead to a violent emotional reaction called meltdown, which is designed to regulate the nervous system. Meltdown is an emotional crash caused by excess stress. It can manifest as a sudden bursting into tears, with screaming, panic, aggression and self-aggression, accompanied by violent throwing on the ground or throwing objects. Another way to regulate emotions is the shutdown, consisting in withdrawing and refusing to interact with the environment. Both of these reactions result from feelings of discomfort, overload, threat and anxiety. They are the way to cope with the stress and tension experienced. These behaviours can be incomprehensible to the environment and do not facilitate establishing relationships. The therapy aims at finding self-regulation measures that will be safe and controllable. Therapy is designed to help you cope with your own senses, feelings, and emotions.
VR for people with autism
The therapy of people with autism consists in: learning to communicate, training social skills, learning everyday activities, strengthening desirable behaviours and eliminating ones that are undesirable in social situations, learning to identify emotions and stressors, coping with stress in a manner that is safe and adequate to the situation. All activities are aimed at improving the management of the world and gaining greater independence. Working with autistic people requires an individual approach and adaptation to the needs and problems of a particular person. Virtual Reality is attractive for people with autism (as it is for people without autism), as it can support education, therapy, and well-being. Participation in sessions with use of VR headsets gives many benefits, provided that the virtual content is tailored to the specific needs of people with ASD. Relaxation with the use of VR TierOne GO headsets is a great solution that responds to the needs of people with autism.
VR TierOne GO for people with autism
Relaxation is an essential element in the therapy of people with autism. It helps to alleviate anxiety and stress and overcome adaptation difficulties. Creating friendly places where people suffering from autism will be able to feel good and safe, where they will be able to rest is a supportive activity. The VR TierOne GO headset makes such a place come true. It gives the opportunity to relax in a quiet environment, devoid of noise, rapid changes and unexpected stimuli that could scare the participant. Relaxation with mobile VR TierOne GO headset serves neurotypical people, it can also benefit people with autism spectrum disorders. Mobile VR TierOne GO headset easily separates the participant from the surrounding stressors, offering a place of seclusion and refuge. The purpose of goggles is to facilitate the attainment of a state of relaxation by extinguishing stress and anxiety in the soothing environment of spherical films. Relaxing 360° VR videos, enriched with therapeutic background music, sounds of nature and voice-over recording are helpful in controlling stress. Virtual relaxation takes place in a sitting position, under the supervision of the session supervisor. A helpful addition to VR TierOne GO relaxation is the software on the relaxation control tablet, thanks to which you can remotely start a relaxation session, limiting the required manipulation with VR headsets. In addition, the person in charge gains insight into what is happening in the headsets, i.e. what the participants of relaxation are looking at. VR TierOne GO headsets reduce mental tension, relax and improve mood. They can also be the window to the outside world. Enriching your sessions with VR TierOne GO relaxation gives the opportunity to prevent and alleviate crises and improve the well-being of people with autism.
VR TierOne GO supports the well-being of the wards of the Kielce branch of the National Society of Autism (KTA). Photo courtesy of KTA Kielce Branch.