Brief Report: A Pilot Study of the Use of a Virtual Reality Headset in Autism Populations

J Autism Dev Disord. 2016 Sep;46(9):3166-76. doi: 10.1007/s10803-016-2830-5.


The application of virtual reality technologies (VRTs) for users with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has been studied for decades. However, a gap remains in our understanding surrounding VRT head-mounted displays (HMDs). As newly designed HMDs have become commercially available (in this study the Oculus Rift™) the need to investigate newer devices is immediate. This study explored willingness, acceptance, sense of presence and immersion of ASD participants. Results revealed that all 29 participants (mean age = 32; 33 % with IQ < 70) were willing to wear the HMD. The majority of the participants reported an enjoyable experience, high levels of 'presence', and were likely to use HMDs again. IQ was found to be independent of the willingness to use HMDs and related VRT immersion experience.

Keywords: Autism spectrum disorder; Head-mounted display; Oculus Rift™; Virtual reality technology.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Asperger Syndrome
  • Attitude*
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder*
  • Autistic Disorder
  • Computer Simulation
  • Female
  • Head
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • User-Computer Interface*
  • Young Adult