VR avatars get jobs for adults with autism
Interviewing for a job can be intimidating, and even more so for someone with autism.
Even in a good job market, only 20% of adults with autism are employed. But now the technology is hoping to change that with virtual reality.
Katherine Badyna and her mom share more than mealtime at home. These days they are now working for the same company. Katherine was recently hired to do data entry.
“It really makes me feel good because I feel like I’m doing something and that I care about the world,” Katherine says. “For a very long time, I never thought I mattered.”
Katherine has a learning disability. In 2019, she enrolled at the Dan Marino Foundation where she trained with VITA, or virtual interactive training agents. Avatars that help people with developmental disabilities, including autism, prepare for job interviews.
“It only builds your confidence,” says Mary Partin, CEO of the Dan Marino Foundation. “If you are ready, everything is easier.
VITA uses a variety of avatars to engage respondents. “There are different characteristics,” says Partin. “You can either have someone who is very sweet and will speak very nicely to you, or you can have someone who is maybe more direct.”
“I remember one time they gave me a hostile person on purpose, because that was the hardest part,” Katherine says. “But I succeeded!”
Virtual reality like VITA helps people with autism find work and value in the real world. “Having a job and doing something everyday makes me feel good and I know it’s a way for me to contribute to society,” says Katherine.
Avatars have also been used to help soldiers recover from PTSD. And in the future, they could help ex-prisoners re-enter the labor market.
Copyright 2021 WNDU. All rights reserved.