Perceptions of a virtual reality sensory room for adults with neurodevelopmental disabilities

Publication Name

Disability and Rehabilitation


Purpose: Mental ill health and sensory processing difficulties often limit participation in everyday life for adults with neurodevelopmental disabilities. Interventions using technology such as virtual reality (VR) are increasingly accessible and may mitigate these difficulties. Understanding what contributes to the successful implementation of novel interventions is important for future use and evaluation. This study aimed to explore the feasibility of implementing a VR sensory room for adults with neurodevelopmental disabilities, their carers and support staff and to explore future iterations of the product and process. Materials and Methods: Thirteen stakeholders who participated in a pilot trial of a VR sensory room were interviewed. Interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim for thematic analysis. Results: Eleven themes were identified which indicated that adults with neurodevelopmental disabilities found the VR sensory room to be mostly acceptable and enjoyable with usage largely consistent. Individual variation and support requirements were highlighted for each user. Future use may require modifications to the headset, in-built customisation options as well as buy-in and training for support staff. Conclusions: The VR Sensory room is a promising tool to support adults with neurodevelopmental disabilities and results warrant further scaled research into the impact of this tool on outcomes for adults with disabilities.Implications for Rehabilitation Whilst adults with neurodevelopmental disabilities may experience sensory processing difficulties which impact their everyday life, there is a paucity of interventions to address these difficulties. Implementation studies offer the opportunity to explore how evidence-based interventions may be implemented to facilitate the best outcomes. A Virtual Reality Sensory Room may offer an innovative alternative to a traditional sensory room for adults with neurodevelopmental disabilities where implementation is well supported.

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