Feasibility of autism-focused public speech training using a simple virtual audience for autism spectrum disorder

Hirokazu Kumazaki, Taro Muramatsu, Kazuki Kobayashi, Tetsuyou Watanabe, Kazunori Terada, Haruhiro Higashida, Teruko Yuhi, Masaru Mimura, Mitsuru Kikuchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Aim: Public speaking seems to be one of the most anxiety-provoking situations for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, there are few evidence-based interventions. We developed Autism-Focused Public Speech Training using Simple Virtual Audiences (APSV), which differs from a general virtual audience in terms of its simple facial expressions and emphasis on the importance of the eyes. The present study aimed to evaluate the feasibility of APSV as an educational method for individuals with ASD. Methods: Fifteen male individuals with ASD were randomly assigned to two groups: one group received APSV (n = 8), and the other group (n = 7) received independent study (IS). From Days 2 to 6, participants in the APSV and IS groups were encouraged to read and answer questions often asked in actual public speaking events. Participants in the APSV study group performed this activity in front of the APSV system, while those in the IS group performed in an empty room. Before and after the intervention (Days 1 and 7), the participants in the two groups had a mock public speaking experience in front of 10 people for approximately 10 min. Results: After the training sessions, the participants’ self-confidence had improved and salivary cortisol levels were significantly decreased in the APSV group as compared to those in the IS group. APSV improved self-confidence and decreased public speaking stress in individuals with ASD. Conclusion: APSV appears to be useful in improving self-confidence and decreasing public speaking stress in individuals with ASD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)124-131
Number of pages8
JournalPsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Feb 1


  • autism spectrum disorder
  • public speaking anxiety
  • simple facial expression
  • training
  • virtual audience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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