MIAMI, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Interviewing for a job can be intimidating and even more so for someone with autism. Even in a good job market, only 20 percent of adults with autism get hired. Now, technology is hoping to change that with avatars.
Katherine Badyna and her mom share more than mealtime at home. These days they now work for the same company. Badyna was recently hired to do data entry.
“It makes me feel really good because it makes me feel like I’m doing something and that I matter in the world. For the longest time, I never thought I mattered,” shared Badyna.
Badyna has a learning disability. In 2019 she enrolled at the Dan Marino Foundation where she trained with VITA, Virtual Interactive Training Agents. Avatars that help those with developmental disabilities, including autism, prepare for job interviews.
“It just builds up your confidence. If you’re prepared, everything’s easier,” explained Mary Partin, CEO of the Dan Marino Foundation.
VITA uses a variety of avatars to engage interviewees.
“There’s different characteristics. You can either have someone that’s very soft and will talk to you very nicely, or you can have someone maybe that’s more direct,” continued Partin.
“I remember one time they gave me a hostile person on purpose, cause that was the hardest one. But I nailed it,” stated Badyna.
Virtual reality like VITA is helping those with autism find work and worth in the real world.
“Having a job and doing something every day makes me feel good and know that it’s a way for me to contribute to society,” smiled Badyna.
Avatars have also been used to help soldiers recovering with PTSD and future uses could include helping the formerly incarcerated re-enter the work world.