Second Life Offers Aid for Asperger's

Online virtual world helps socially awkward patients pick up, practice skills
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 16, 2008 2:18 PM CST
Second Life Offers Aid for Asperger's
"Asperger's usually affects people who have high-functioning learning skills but have a deficit interacting with people," one researcher said. "This provides a forum for that."   ((c) Ka Rasmuson)

Sufferers from Asperger’s syndrome, characterized by an inability to pick up social cues, are getting an unlikely assist from the virtual world Second Life, ABC News reports. Researchers have found that the site, in which users communicate through online avatars, is more effective than other therapies for guiding patients through social exercises such as asking another avatar out on a date or asking a “boss” avatar for a raise.

Proponents believe such exercises feel more real in the virtual world than in role-playing with a therapist, and are therefore more useful. But critics wonder if notoriously inflexible sufferers will be able to transition the skills they learn in SL to the real world: "Asperger's kids love computers anyway,” said an autism researcher—what if they find they just feel more comfortable there? (More Asperger's Syndrome stories.)

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