guest speakers smartlab sarah02

Guest Speakers SMARTlab Sarah02
Guest Speakers SMARTlab Sarah02
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  • 8/8/2019 Guest Speakers SMARTlab Sarah02


    Virtual Reality Technologies for social skillsand learning for children and young people

    on the autism spectrum

    When: Wednesday, 27th of October from 1-2pm.

    Where: SMARTlab Digital Media Institute, KD1.21 Knowledge Dock, UEL

    Sarah Parsons, Senior Research Fellow, School of Education, University of Birmingham

    For over a decade there has been considerable research as well as media interest in the potential of Virtual Reality

    technologies (VR) for supporting the learning of people on the autism spectrum. This has mirrored the rapid

    advance in the use of VR for leisure, training and educational purposes more widely. VR is argued to offerparticular benefits for people on the autism spectrum, chiefly because it can offer simulations of authentic real-

    world situations in a carefully, controlled and safe environment. For a group of people who experience significant

    difficulties in socialising within the real world this technology has therefore been argued to offer distinct advantages

    and benefits for social skills teaching and learning compared to other approaches. I will talk about my own

    research in this area from three different projects (AS Interactive; YourWorld; COSPATIAL), all of which have used /

    are using different VR platforms. In particular, I focus on the methodological approaches of the projects as well as

    the representational links that young people on the autism spectrum may make between real and virtual worlds

    and what this means for the potential of the technologies for supporting learning.

    Please RSVP by sending an email to

    To find us, please check our website

  • 8/8/2019 Guest Speakers SMARTlab Sarah02


    Please RSVP by sending an email to

    To find us, please check our website

    Sarah ParsonsBSc (Hons), PhD

    Senior Research Fellow

    School of Education, University of

    Birmingham, Edgbaston,

    Birmingham B15 2TT UK

    T: +44 (0) 121 414 4819

    F: +44 (0) 121 414 4865

    Sarah is Deputy Director of the Autism Centre for Education

    and Research (ACER) in the School of Education at the

    University of Birmingham, UK. She has significant research

    experience in disability related projects and particular

    interests in the use of innovative technologies for children

    with autism and the views and experiences of disabled

    children and their families. Following a PhD in developmental

    psychology at the University of Nottingham, Sarah has led

    and managed research encompassing a range of

    methodological and analytical approaches, using qualitative

    and quantitative techniques. She is currently a partner on the

    COSPATIAL projectfunded by the European Commission

    which explores the use of innovative technologies for

    supporting social skills and collaborative working for children

    with and without autism (2009-12). The project includes

    partners in Nottingham, Italy and Israel. Previous projects

    have included research on using immersive and desktop

    Virtual Reality for supporting social skills and understanding

    for children on the autism spectrum, and researching the

    voices of disabled children about their experiences of

    mainstream and specialist education in the UK.

    Sarah has recently guest-edited a special issue on Autism ofthe Journal of Assistive Technologies focusing on research

    and practitioner experience in applying technologies to

    support children and young adults on the autism spectrum.

    She supervises and examines postgraduate students on a

    range of topics and is external examiner for the Masters

    degree in e-Inclusion (Learning, Disability & Technology) at

    Kings College London. Sarah is also Vice-Chair of the

    University of Birminghams Arts and Social Sciences Ethics

    Committee. Sarah will be taking up a Readership in the

    School of Education at the University of Southampton from

    January 2011.

    Selected publications

    Wallace, S., Parsons, S., Westbury, A., White, K., White, K. &

    Bailey, A. (2010) Sense of Presence and Atypical Social

    Judgments in Immersive Virtual Reality: responses of

    adolescents with Autistic Spectrum Disorders. Autism, 14(3),


    Parsons, S., Guldberg, K., MacLeod, A., Jones, G., Prunty, A.

    & Balfe, T. (2009) International review of the literature of

    evidence of best practice provision in the education of

    persons with Autistic Spectrum Disorders. National Council

    for Special Education: Ireland. (www.


    Parsons, S., Lewis, A., & Ellins, J. (2009) The views and

    experiences of parents of children with autistic spectrum

    disorder about educational provision: comparisons with

    parents of children with other disabilities from an online

    survey. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 24 (1),


    Mitchell, P., Parsons, S. & Leonard, A. (2007). Using virtual

    environments for teaching social understanding to

    adolescents with autistic spectrum disorders. Journal ofAutism and Developmental Disorders, 37, 589-600.

    Parsons, S. (2005). Use, understanding and learning in

    virtual environments by adolescents with autistic spectrum

    disorders. Annual Review of CyberTherapy and Telemedicine,

    3, 207-215.

    Parsons, S., Leonard, A. & Mitchell, P. (2006). Virtual

    environments for social skills training: comments from two

    adolescents with autistic spectrum disorder. Computers &

    Education, 47, 186-206.

    Parsons, S. & Mitchell, P. (2002). The potential of virtual

    reality in social skills training for people with autistic spectrumdisorders. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 46,


    Parsons, S., Mitchell, P., & Leonard, A. (2004). The use and

    understanding of virtual environments by adolescents with

    autistic spectrum disorders. Journal of Autism and

    Developmental Disorders, 34, 449-466.

    Parsons, S., Mitchell, P., & Leonard, A. (2005). Do

    adolescents with autistic spectrum disorders adhere to social

    conventions in virtual environments? Autism, 9, 95-117.


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