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Over the past year, Floreo and researchers at the Center for Autism Research at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia have collaborated on a study of the safety and feasibility of Floreo’s Police Safety Module (PSM), designed to support individuals with ASD in learning skills necessary for safe interactions with law enforcement officers. This Phase I research study was supported by a Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant award from the National Institute of Mental Health of the National Institutes of Health (R42MH115539).

Preliminary findings from this project were presented by Dr. Julia Parish-Morris of CHOP’s Center for Autism Research in June 2018 at the 23rd Annual Cyberpsychology, Cybertherapy & Social Networking Conference in Gatineau, Canada. These preliminary results suggested that it is feasible to use Floreo’s PSM with adolescents and young adults with autism. In addition, safety of the module in this population was suggested by the lack of adverse effects in study participants at the time of the presentation.

Floreo and CHOP were recently notified that this collaborative research program would receive continued funding from the National Institute of Mental Health, allowing the project to progress into Phase II of the research study. The goals in Phase II include studies of the effectiveness of the Police Safety Module in comparison with a video modeling intervention. Improvement in police interaction skills will be determined based on participant performance in a police officer interaction task. Research will initially be conducted with adolescents and adults with ASD in a randomized controlled trial at CHOP’s Center for Autism Research, and in the second year of Phase II, ongoing effectiveness research will be conducted in usual treatment conditions with randomized controlled studies at a special education school and an applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy center. During the funding period, the Floreo team will make necessary improvements in the user interface and will also develop new virtual environments and police encounter scenarios in order to ultimately offer a wide range of training options to help individuals with ASD learn these critical social skills.

Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute Of Mental Health of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R42MH115539. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.