COVID-19 has impacted life in many aspects, particularly for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), for which support has been limited and learning delayed, disrupting their development. In addition to education, CMU recognizes the importance of transformative knowledge integration and thus has come up with a ‘VR system for social skill development for children with ASD’, a project led by Dr. Kannikar Intawong, from CMU Faculty of Public Health, and her team. They recently received an honorary award from the Thai Media Fund (TMF) at the TMF Media Innovation Awards 2021, held to promote the production of quality, creative and safe media.
This project is a part of CMU’s City & Community Innovation Challenge program that encourages the development of existing things into beneficial and practical innovations. Out of 62 candidates, Dr. Kannikar was named Outstanding Figure in Media Innovation for this project at the TMF Media Innovation Awards 2021, which were divided into four categories: Society, Environment, Economy and Art & Culture, all of which are fundamental to communication and interaction with others. This is particularly important for children with ASD who may experience impaired development in social interaction or verbal and non-verbal communication. For this reason, the researchers have decided to develop a VR system that simulates events in daily life to promote the care and social skill development of children with ASD through presentations of virtual 3D objects. The interactions will be analyzed and the results will be shown after use. Occupational therapists can use the data to administer a more effective care plan that would give the children the social skills and self-dependence that they need to lead a normal life with minimal obstacles.
This award has given the researchers great pride and motivation in producing beneficial innovations for society. With the quest for excellence in mind, CMU attempts to turn knowledge into positive change and growth in innovation, while also adhering to the principles of leaving-no-one-behind, encouraging social responsibility, and having the ability to adapt to change and progress in the world.