Floreo Technology proposes to develop the Police Safety Module (PSM), an innovative, immersive mobile virtual reality (VR) application designed to train police safety in adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). ASD has been increasing in prevalence over recent years. While much attention has been paid to the causes and early diagnosis of ASD, there remains a clear need for effective interventions for the core symptoms of autism. ASD is a lifelong disorder, and adolescents and adults with ASD experience significant challenges in functional living skills. Safe community engagement, such as interaction with law enforcement officers, represents an area of concern for adolescents and young adults with ASD continuing to struggle with social communication skills. Interventions commonly used for older individuals with ASD, such as Social StoriesTM and video modeling, have not been studied specifically for efficacy in teaching police safety skills. Recent advances in VR technology have created an opportunity to explore new intervention strategies for individuals with ASD, but modern VR technology such as head-mounted displays and mobile applications have to date not been adequately investigated for feasibility or effectiveness in this population. Floreo has developed a unique product that pairs the user and a supervising therapist in an immersive virtual environment. The project team will conduct initial pilot studies on the usability and feasibility of a module dedicated to training police safety skills in adolescents and adults with ASD in an immersive virtual environment, and will then proceed to perform additional research and development on efficacy and effectiveness of the PSM in improving police safety skills.
The goal of this project is to develop an effective mobile virtual reality intervention to train police safety skills in adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorder. Autism spectrum disorder has been increasing in prevalence and represents a public health challenge due to limitations of current treatments and systems of support. There is a lack of easily disseminated social and community skills interventions. This area of need offers an opportunity for innovative mobile virtual reality technology that can be developed to address a variety of social and behavioral needs.