Autism is an especially difficult disorder to treat because attention and communication deficits are the main symptoms. IMI recognizes that virtual reality can be utilized in many ways to attempt to improve the prognosis of those diagnosed with autism. The Institute recently applied for a grant for a study focused on teaching children with autism social skills and activities of daily living.
By creating virtual worlds including classrooms, bathrooms and homes, IMI hopes to develop protocols for improving the quality of life for these children. Another advantage of virtual reality is that it can also be used to filter out stimuli, which aids in focusing attention in patients with autism. The therapist can adjust the level of stimuli in the environment according to each patient, adding in more distractions as their performance improves. IMI aims to further research in this new area.