Virtual Mediums Used as a Conduit for Soft-Skill Development: A Naturalistic and Innovative Approach – Virtual Mediums to Support Soft-Skills

Virtual Mediums Used as a Conduit for Soft-Skill Development: A Naturalistic and Innovative Approach – Virtual Mediums to Support Soft-Skills

Jenn Gallup (Idaho State University, USA), Onur E. Kocaoz (Aksaray University, Turkey) and Barbara Serianni (Georgia Southern University, USA)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6240-5.ch012

Abstract

The purpose of this chapter is to elucidate the potential of online mediums such as massive multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) and other virtual immersive mediums that hold the potential to build social connections for individuals with autism and related disabilities. Further, this chapter will relate the skills used in the context of the virtual environments to essential soft-skill development and generalization to participation within inclusive STEM classes and postsecondary education.
Chapter Preview
Top

Background

An increasing number of individuals are being diagnosed with ASD now affecting approximately 1% of the global population (CDC, 2014). Autism has considerable variety and is characterized by the following: (a) persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts, (b) inability to understand nonverbal communicative behaviors used for social interaction, (c) difficulty developing, maintaining, and understanding relationships, and (d) restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities (CDC, 2014). Symptoms associated with an ASD are persistent and affect those individuals across their lifespan (APA, 2013).

Young adults with ASD choose majors in STEM at a much higher rate than even their typically developing peers without a documented disability (Wei et al., 2013). They often possess unique attributes for success within postsecondary education in STEM fields, such as the ability to: (a) maintain hyper focus on a specific analytic task, (b) think systematically and solve problems objectively without social bias, and (c) conceptualize innovative solutions to complex problems (Baron-Cohen, Wheelwright, Burtenshaw, & Hobson 2007; Fessenden, 2013; Grandin, 2012; Hart & Whalon, 2010; Wei et al., 2013). Additionally, young adults with ASD are often high-ability learners in the areas of STEM (Fessenden, 2013; Grandin, 2012; Hart & Whalon, 2010; Wei et al., 2013). When reflecting on the strengths that young adults with ASD possess, they would be ideal candidates for many positions in a STEM-related career (Baron-Cohen et al., 2007). Unfortunately, according to Grandin (2012), young adults with ASD are missing the opportunity to continue on to postsecondary education experiences and realize their potential to contribute to future science breakthroughs.

Virtual environments hold the potential to close the gap for individuals with ASD as an underrepresented population by providing an environment in which to learn needed social and soft-skills, that is conducive to their learning style. The purpose of social platforms and virtual environments that support interactions with others is to network, establish and maintain friendships (virtually), go on dates, meet new friends, find jobs, and exchange recommendations and news all in the context of a virtual environment (Granic et al., 2014; Rybas & Gijjala, 2007).

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Reset