A recent study by the University of Texas shows positive results for children with high-functioning autism who undergoes a new virtual reality training programme.
Most children with high-functioning autism have above average cognitive intelligence, but still experience social difficulties. They lack social communication skills and find it hard to control their expression of emotions and thoughts. Because of these social skills deficits, they become socially isolated and may suffer from low self-esteem.
However, the study suffers from a key etiological problems that prevents any meaningful interpretations to show its effectiveness.
Mainly, there is no control group at all to compare the effects of undergoing the virtual reality training programme with that of either other training programmes or no training at all.
Without this comparison, any benefits derived from the virtual reality training programme could not be effectively quantified against the benefits from undergoing other programmes or no training at all.
This means that any improvement seen could not be proved to be from the training programme itself and that it is technically possible for improvement to either hvae happened in its absence anyway or even for children’s improvement to be impeded by such a programme, because the results from the study cannot be proven.
Hence, expectations of parents for such a programme to actually help in their child’s condition may have to wait for either new studies or further advances in technology to come along.
Given such a case, parents would do well to trust and try out tried and tested methods like applied behavior analysis (ABA) instead.
If their child should show any symptoms of autism, like speech delays, avoiding eye contact and failing to respond to parents’ engagement, a prompt assessment is needed to confirm whether these are signs of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
With autism in Singapore becoming an increasing problem, there is a greater need for treatment for autism in children.
Early intervention in young children with ASD using ABA therapy has proven to be the most effective and scientifically validated form of treatment. It is the only therapy endorsed by the U.S. Surgeon General.
Only with consistent and intensive intervention with ABA for at least twenty hours a week for a continuous period of up to two years could there be genuine hope of improvement for the child be realized.