Can video games be therapeutic?

It is commonly believed that videogames and problematic, aggressive behavior is interlinked, on the flip side, however, many studies say videogames can be a safe and secure place for children with autism. Parents have reported that videogames can be helpful with children with autism, wide across the spectrum; helping them socialize, increase attention span, work on their hand to eye coordination and much more.

They are typically fascinated by screen-based technology which are educational and have treatment purposes. These children have difficulty with communication and social interaction, but they often have particularly good visual perception skills and respond well to visual stimuli. These children often struggle to fit in socially and videogames can allow such kids an opportunity for joint attention and shared interests with their peers. Intense interest by children with autism will lead them to make conversation about it with their parents and siblings. Playing videogames together is also a wonderful way to bond and be involved with something that interests them. Moreover, when parents practice talking to them while playing, it is also a great way to increase multi-tasking and communication skills.

Moreover, it can help breakout from their rigid and inflexible nature in situations that require problem-solving skills and further teaches them that their repetitive and aggressive nature would not help them progress onto the next level and that they need to find other ways to work around this problem. Videogames require flexibility and learning from one’s own mistakes as well as adapting to new challenges and situations. This helps them work on their frustration and irritability. Additionally, it also teaches them to cope with failure and loss, and instills practice of patience, time perseverance and willingness to take new, nerve-wrecking challenges.

Furthermore, it helps them practice their hand to eye coordination as it is common for individuals on the spectrum struggle with this, which causes low-esteem and fear of failure that may be witnessed by the public eye. This is enough to dampen any desire they may have to continue trying. This helps ease tension and encourage practice within their safe place without the fear of others seeing. Videogames often require a fine set of motor-skills which these games can help such children work towards and as they see their coordination improve and an increase in their own accomplishments, their self-esteem also improves.

The world is scary place for all autistic children; highly stimulating and full of unpredictability. Children with autism are known to have a strong preference for the known and to be able to feel calm and safe in an environment. Videogames are an environment where they get to control the world. They can decide to go forward, backward, play a certain level again or proceed onto a new one, allowing them to experience predictability and to feel a sense of control in an otherwise uncontrollable world.  This level of predictability can help keep a child calm and secure especially after a highly stressful episode or event.     


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