Effectiveness of Virtual Reality for Children and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder: An Evidence-Based Systematic Review

Sensors (Basel). 2018 Aug 1;18(8):2486. doi: 10.3390/s18082486.


Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disease that is specially characterized by impairments in social communication and social skills. ASD has a high prevalence in children, affecting 1 in 160 subjects. Virtual reality (VR) has emerged as an effective tool for intervention in the health field. Different recent papers have reviewed the VR-based treatments in ASD, but they have an important limitation because they only use clinical databases and do not include important technical indexes such as the Web of Science index or the Scimago Journal & Country Rank. To our knowledge, this is the first contribution that has carried out an evidence-based systematic review including both clinical and technical databases about the effectiveness of VR-based intervention in ASD. The initial search identified a total of 450 records. After the exclusion of the papers that are not studies, duplicated articles, and the screening of the abstract and full text, 31 articles met the PICO (Population, Intervention, Comparison and Outcomes) criteria and were selected for analysis. The studies examined suggest moderate evidence about the effectiveness of VR-based treatments in ASD. VR can add many advantages to the treatment of ASD symptomatology, but it is necessary to develop consistent validations in future studies to state that VR can effectively complement the traditional treatments.

Keywords: ASD; Asperger; Autism Spectrum Disorder; augmented reality; virtual reality.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / psychology*
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / therapy*
  • Child
  • Communication
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Virtual Reality*