Validation of key components in designing a social skills training content using virtual reality for high functioning autism youth—A Fuzzy Delphi method



In a recent study published in April 2024, titled “Validation of key components in designing a social skills training content using virtual reality for high functioning autism youth—A Fuzzy Delphi method,” researchers explored the development of virtual reality (VR) training programs to address social skill challenges in high-functioning autistic youth [1].


This blog post dives into the details of this research and its potential significance for young people with HFASD.


The Need for Social Skills Training in HFASD


High-functioning autism spectrum disorder (HFASD) is characterized by social and communication difficulties. While individuals with HFASD may have strong cognitive abilities, navigating social interactions can be challenging. Social skills training programs can equip them with the tools they need to build meaningful relationships and navigate social situations more confidently.


VR Enters the Arena: A New Approach to Social Skills Training


This study investigates the potential of VR technology to deliver social skills training for HFASD youth. VR creates immersive environments where users can practice social interactions in a safe and controlled setting.


The researchers employed the Fuzzy Delphi Method (FDM) to gather expert consensus on the key components of VR-based social skills training. FDM is a structured technique for achieving group consensus on a complex issue.


The Fuzzy Delphi Method in Action


The research involved three phases utilizing the FDM:

  • Phase 1: Identifying Key Areas – In-depth interviews were conducted with 13 HFASD youth, 7 parents, and 6 experts. A scientific literature review was also performed. This information was used to develop a questionnaire that identified potential social skill difficulties and cognitive behavioral techniques (CBT) suitable for VR training.
  • Phase 2: Refining the Framework – Experts reviewed the questionnaire in multiple rounds, providing feedback and suggestions. This iterative process helped refine the content and achieve consensus on the most relevant social skill areas and CBT techniques for VR training.
  • Phase 3: Reaching Consensus – Experts participated in a final round to confirm their agreement on the proposed framework for VR-based social skills training for HFASD youth.


The Road Ahead: VR for Social Skills Training


This study successfully established a validated framework for designing social skills training programs using VR technology for HFASD youth. This framework provides a foundation for developing VR training modules that are standardized, evidence-based, and cater to the specific needs of this population.


Unveiling the Advantages of VR for Social Skills Training

VR technology offers several unique advantages for social skills training in HFASD youth:

  • Immersive Learning: VR creates realistic and engaging environments where users can practice social skills in a safe and controlled setting. This allows them to experiment with different approaches and receive feedback without the fear of judgment in real-world situations.
  • Standardized Training: VR training programs can be standardized to ensure consistency and quality across different training settings. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals who may not have access to qualified therapists or specialized social skills training programs.
  • Increased Motivation: VR can make learning more engaging and interactive, potentially leading to increased motivation and participation among users. Gamification elements and reward systems can further enhance the learning experience.
  • Targeted Skill Development: VR training programs can be tailored to address specific social skill challenges faced by individuals with HFASD. This targeted approach can maximize the effectiveness of the training.
  • Data Collection and Analysis: VR environments can provide valuable data on user behavior and performance. This data can be used to track progress, identify areas for improvement, and personalize the training experience.


Beyond the Study: The Future of VR for Social Skills Training in HFASD


While this study focused on establishing a framework for VR-based social skills training, it opens doors for exciting future research endeavors. Here are some key areas for exploration:

  • Developing VR Training Modules: Based on the established framework, researchers can develop VR training modules that target specific social skills relevant to HFASD youth.
  • Clinical Trials: Rigorous clinical trials are needed to evaluate the effectiveness of VR-based social skills training compared to traditional methods.
  • Integration with Traditional Therapies: VR training can be integrated with traditional therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to create a comprehensive treatment approach.
  • Accessibility and Affordability: Efforts should be made to ensure that VR-based social skills training is accessible and affordable for all families with children on the autism spectrum.




The use of VR technology in social skills training for HFASD youth holds immense promise. This study has laid the groundwork for the development of evidence-based VR training programs that can empower young people with the social skills they need to thrive. As VR technology continues to evolve and become more accessible, we can expect to see even more innovative applications in the field of autism therapy.



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