Effectiveness of virtual reality for teaching street-crossing skills to children and adolescents with autism

Naomi Josman, Naomi Tamar Weiss, Hadass Milika Ben-Chaim, Shula Friedrich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many children with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) are not independent in street crossing. This skill is particularly crucial because it involves exposure to potentially dangerous situations and is an important step in the development of independence. Virtual reality (VR) facilitates learning in a safe environment enabling a gradual increase in the complexity of tasks approaching the conditions of real life. The purpose of this study was to examine whether children with ASD are capable of learning the skills needed to cross a street safely via a desktop street-crossing virtual environment (VE), and to determine whether these skills are transferred to real life. The experimental group included six children with ASD. The control group included six grade and gender-matched typically developed children. Performance while street crossing within the VE was scored. A pedestrian safety checklist scored from taped video clips assessed the children's street crossing skills within a protected real sidewalk before and after VR intervention. The results demonstrated that children with ASD were capable of learning to use the VE. Significant differences were found between the performance of the experimental and control groups within the VE. Moreover, the experimental group showed substantial improvement in their ability to cross the virtual street safely after intervention. Finally, half of the experimental subjects made considerable improvement in their pedestrian behavior within the protected real-street setting following the VR intervention. The results indicate that VR may be used for teaching street-crossing skills due the likelihood to real life situations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-56
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal on Disability and Human Development
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2008


  • Israel
  • Virtual reality
  • autism
  • evaluation
  • street crossing skills
  • training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Sensory Systems
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing
  • Speech and Hearing


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