Saturday, April 21, 2012

Guardian Spirit designed to teach vocational, social, life skills to people with autism


When Marcus Morris was a child, adults considered him incorrigible. Physicians incorrectly diagnosed him with multiple personality disorder, depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
He grew up a ward of the state, unadoptable, and as an adult he blew through 68 jobs in 10 years, unable to earn a steady paycheck. He was void of self-worth.
Morris, now 32, eventually was diagnosed with autism, a range of complex neurodevelopment disorders characterized by social impairments, communication difficulties and restricted, repetitive and stereotypical patterns of behavior.
He wanted to socialize with others but failed miserably and knew it.
While coming to terms with his diagnosis and treatment, Morris immersed himself in the safety of a virtual world. As he confided his habit to his therapist, his counselor suggested an online three-dimensional virtual world where Morris could socialize and connect with others.
He soon was interacting with others through an avatar, a virtual incarnation of himself. He was able to explore the world, meet people, socialize, participate in activities, and create and trade virtual property and services with others.
He thrived in this parallel universe. He could make mistakes and not be fired or chastised. He gained confidence and a renewed sense of self-worth, traits he feared were lost. He rediscovered them in a virtual website.
He is now so self-assured that on April 21, Morris, and a savvy board of directors, will launch Guardian Spirit, a 3D virtual world that Morris founded. The virtual setting is designed to teach vocational, social and life skills to people with autism through simulated training.
Read more of Cindy Uken's The Billings Gazette article HERE.
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