Learn How Kids with ASD are Using Virtual Reality to Communicate

For children with autism spectrum disorders, both verbal and non-verbal communication can be a challenge. Therapists, counselors, teachers, and parents continually strive to help children with ASD better connect with others, and to understand what living with ASD is like. One tool that’s helping people reach these goals is virtual reality. In fact, some experts believe that virtual reality is the best tool available for helping people put themselves into someone else’s shoes.  

Using VR in the context of autism spectrum disorder is not a new idea: autism therapists and researchers have been using virtual reality since the mid-1990sResearchers have used virtual reality technology to help people with ASD prepare for stressful encounters and situations, like job interviews, conflicts, and even dating. For children with ASD, virtual reality has been used to help prepare them for public speaking. Using a game in which a room full of avatars could only be kept from fading away through eye contact, children learned to look around the room, instead of just looking straight ahead.  

One issue that impacts children with autism spectrum disorders is phobias. Some common phobias include fear of public transport, classrooms, balloons, and animals. Cognitive-behavioral therapy has been used to combat these phobias, but some kids with ASD struggle to achieve the visualization and imagination that’s necessary for this therapy to be fully beneficial. Recently, however, a study examined the effect of immersive therapy to address phobias in children with ASD. The study involved a randomized, controlled trial of 32 children between the ages of 8 and 14, and the results indicated that 25 percent of the group experienced an alleviation of their phobias two weeks after the end of the treatment. By six months after the end of the trial, that number had gone up to 38 percent.  

Virtual reality has been successful in helping people with ASD practice social skills and overcome phobias, but it has additional implications for autism spectrum disorder as well. People with ASD are using VR to help share their own experiences, in a variety of ways. One example of this is a project called Beholder, created by Matt Clark, the founder of United Visual Artists. The father of a teenager with autism spectrum disorder, Clark wanted to create something in collaboration with high functioning artists with ASD that would allow neurotypical people to see the world from the perspective of an autistic child, celebrating some of the truly interesting aspects of this kind of perception.  

Other projects focus on creating experiences that allow family members of people with ASD and others who want to understand the condition to experience how it feels to have autism spectrum disorder, as well as certain other neurodivergent conditions like dyspraxia, dyslexia, and ADHD. The goal of these types of simulations is not just to raise awareness of the challenges these individuals faced, but also to give a glimpse into a world that many of us struggle to understand. There’s hope that as VR technology continues to improve, it will play an increasingly significant role in how we support those with ASD, helping them connect, communicate, and navigate the world around them.  

For over 20 years, The Behavior Exchange in Plano and Frisco, Texas has been helping children with autism spectrum disorders, behavioral issues, developmental delays, and other special needs to reach their full potential. Our staff is dedicated to helping children achieve their goals, and with the help of families, schools, and other professionals, we apply the patience, focus, expertise, and time that it takes to improve behavioral difficulties. Our goal is to turn every family into a happy family, turn children into successful individuals, help parents to feel empowered, and increase the effectiveness of schools. Providing individualized, early-start therapy, and educational programs for children of all ages, we offer ABA therapy that’s personalized to meet each child’s unique needs. For more information about how we can improve your child’s life and yours, call 972.755.3802, or contact us through our website.  

Categories

Categories

Archives

Archives

Covid 19 Update

Safe hives. Changing lives.

Learn how we’re keeping our hives safe, healthy, and buzzing with hope!

 

Click here for details

As Director of Finance, Robert manages and oversees financial planning and accounting, revenue cycle management, budget operations, and strategic initiatives for The Behavior Exchange. He brings more than 15 years of experience to his role and is accomplished at developing financial strategies that enhance organizational growth and maximize sustainability. Robert’s expertise includes the design of short- and long-term financial plans, investment management, De Novo strategy, operational optimization, financial problem solving, compliance, and much more. But he’s not all “Show me the honey!” Robert is as comfortable handling transaction and valuation service engagements of more than $100 million as he is driving a classic dune buggy to work.

Ashvina attended University of Bombay and graduated with a Bachelors of Commerce. She got her Montessori Diploma in 1985 and taught ever since. Ashvina came to TBE in January of 2016 as Admin Assistant. During the years she got the opportunity to learn and work in different departments such as HR, Finance, Office Manager and Executive Assistant. Last summer TBE bought billing in house and her current focus area is Revenue Cycle Management. She is detail oriented and enjoys working with people. Ashvina volunteers to deliver meals to seniors and local shelters on the weekend. She loves to spend time with her family and grandkids. Ashvina loves her job because she enjoys hearing different points of view, and she feels her contributions help fuel the direction of our company.

Working with children comes naturally to Angela. Her mom was a special education teacher for 30 years and often had Angela join her for Take Your Child to Work Day. And in high school, Angela spent every summer as the nanny for a little boy with an autism spectrum disorder. It was this experience where her passion for working with children with autism started to blossom.

From there, she went on to graduate from Oklahoma State University with a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Sciences. She learned about Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) in a non-normative development class and from that moment knew that ABA would be her life’s work.

Angela moved to the DFW area shortly after and began working at The Behavior Exchange as a therapist. She worked on her Master’s in Behavior Analysis at the same time. A year after graduating, she earned certification as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.

Now, as a Clinical Director at The Behavior Exchange, she brings a life-long passion to her work, holding a special place in her heart for children with limited language skills and working closely with families to develop healthy sleep habits.

Danielle’s passion for working with families is deeply personal and from the heart. Her younger brother has an autism spectrum disorder, and through their journey as a family, she found her purpose in life as an advocate for individuals with special needs.

After graduating from the University of North Texas with a degree in Human Development and Family Studies, Danielle began volunteering at The Behavior Exchange. She saw passionate therapists, meaningful change for clients, and families with hope for the future. After a summer of volunteering, she officially joined the team as Director of Admissions and found her home with The Behavior Exchange family.

With her extensive experience working as a client advocate with insurance providers, Danielle perseveres to help individuals of all ages and abilities receive the services they need to reach their full potential. She feels truly honored by each and every family who entrusts The Behavior Exchange to be part of their journey and is committed to the organization’s core values, mission, and goal of being a beacon of hope for the community.

Adam has always had a passion for helping individuals of all ages thrive and reach their full potential. He’s also an enthusiastic musician, songwriter, leader, and devoted family man, who has been helping children and team members grow with The Behavior Exchange since 2010.

Prior to joining the team at The Behavior Exchange, Adam was a mortgage loan consultant and grad student, pursuing his master’s degree in Education at the University of North Texas. He graduated in 2013 and also earned a graduate academic certificate in Autism Intervention. The following year, after years as a Behavior Therapist and seeing first-hand the power of ABA and the meaningful impact it can have on children and their families, Adam became a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. He then commenced from the Stagen Leadership Academy after completing the Integral Leadership Program (ILP), a 52-week practice-based program designed to develop executives serious about transforming themselves, their teams, and their organizations.

Adam is truly grateful to be a part of a dynamic, inspiring and compassionate team, and he’s dedicated to bettering the lives of all children and their families through the delivery of the highest quality of ABA services, while supporting the amazing team at The Behavior Exchange.

As Supervisor of Technology, Marvin is charged with the creation of strategic IT initiatives that align with the mission, culture and long-term goals of The Behavior Exchange. He works closely with Directors, BCBAs (Board Certified Behavior Analysts), RBTs (Registered Behavior Therapists), and administrative staff to deliver innovative technologies and services that enhance teaching, learning, research, and client activities.

Marvin’s commitment to the success of The Behavior Exchange and its clients has resulted in improved data collection, analysis, mobile device management, and cloud-based file management infrastructure. Marvin graduated form the University of Texas in San Antonio with a BA in Psychology 2004. After graduating, Marvin wanted to give back to his community by dedicating his time commitment to provide a civil service. Marvin for which he commited 8 years to be a probation officer in Bexar County Tx. When the opportunity to join The Behavior Exchange arose Marvin jumped at the chance to continue to provide services for those in need and to work for an amazing organization and cause.

Soraya is from South Africa and moved to Texas in 1996. She graduated from The University of Texas and pursued a career, at that time, in Education. Soraya taught at a Montessori school for a few years and then took on a leadership role.

During her time in the education system, Soraya realized her passion was to assist children with special needs. So she joined The Behavior Exchange as a therapist, transitioned into a supervisory role in 2017, and a year and a half later, was promoted to Clinical Operations Manager.

She quickly learned the ins and outs of ABA operations and scheduling and successfully collaborates across departments to ensure The Behavior Exchange continues to provide quality services to clients and their families. She’s thankful to be part of such an amazing organization and excited to see what the future holds.

You could say Walter’s career started when he spent hours as a young child drawing superheroes and coloring maps. This passion, along with extraordinary swimming skills, landed him a full swimming scholarship at Texas Christian University, where he graduated in 1997 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Communication Graphics.

During the next 13 years, his design and art direction skills, conceptual-thinking abilities, and marketing-savvy know-how were honed at a few prestigious advertising and marketing agencies around the Dallas area. In the mid 2000s, he helped his wife Tammy Cline-Soza (founder and CEO of The Behavior Exchange) create a unique and concise brand for her new business. From logos and websites to uniforms, brand voice and visuals, Walter has been the main creative force for all things The Behavior Exchange.

Aside from giving birth to The Behavior Exchange brand, Walter is helping Tammy raise two amazing, beautiful children, River and Sierra. In his spare time (the two minutes he’s got per week), you can find Walter illustrating iconic landmarks of Dallas and Texas or looking around for this next open-water swim. Once he gets back in shape.

After 20 years of building The Behavior Exchange, literally from the ground up,
Tammy couldn’t be more proud of the team, culture, and organization that it has become.

As a family helping families, The Behavior Exchanges looks for opportunities that will make the biggest impact and produce life-changing outcomes – for clients, families, and even for team members. Tammy believes that if a team, a family, a community takes care of each other, the possibilities are endless and the relationships built along the way can make life more enriching and challenges easier to navigate. You could say her goal has been to build a kind of utopia full of support, love, and expertise that brings the best services possible to the community and ensures more families have access to those services.

Tammy and her family have dedicated their lives to the mission of The Behavior Exchange and continue to grow, learn, cultivate, challenge, support, and create better models for success. To that end, she is committed to her own leadership development and actively participates in advanced training, mentoring, and deep self-exploration on how to live out her purpose to love and support her family and help others reach their full potential. She takes her position very seriously and tries to serve as a channel for what the universe wants to come to fruition.

She also loves travel, gardening, being creative, MUSIC!, tennis, yoga, meditation, journaling, reading, being in nature, adventures, and more than anything, spending time with her husband Walter and their two beautiful children, River and Sierra.