Teaching social skills to students with autism spectrum disorder through augmented, virtual and mixed reality

  • Maggie A. Mosher Department of Special Education, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, USA
  • Adam C. Carreon Department of Elementary and Special Education, Georgia Southern University; Statesboro, GA, USA https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9677-8025
Keywords: social validity, systematic review, virtual environment, social and emotional learning, technology delivered intervention


This systematic literature review was conducted to explore the social validity of augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR) as a means of providing social skill instruction to students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Forty-one articles met the inclusion criteria, including five studies utilizing AR and the remaining 36 utilizing VR for social skill interventions. No studies implemented MR. The targeted skills of the studies included emotion recognition, relationship skills, social awareness, cooperation, and executive functioning. The intervention was considered effective in 63% of studies, not effective in 10% of studies, and mixed results in 27% of studies. The social validity indicators reported by researchers ranged from two to 14 of 17 determined categories. Findings indicate the primary socially valid reasons for utilizing AR/VR for social skill instruction were high student motivation toward the intervention and a positive attitude toward the technology. Findings indicate that increasing the role of parents, educators, and students as both social skill selectors and treatment agents and adding valid and reliable skill measures may improve the effects of an intervention. Sustainability may increase by providing training to both treatment agents and participants. AR has the potential to improve generalization and VR provides a practice environment for performance deficits. Combining these technologies may provide a more effective social skill intervention.


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How to Cite
Mosher M. A., & Carreon A. C. (2021). Teaching social skills to students with autism spectrum disorder through augmented, virtual and mixed reality. Research in Learning Technology, 29. https://doi.org/10.25304/rlt.v29.2626
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