Pokemon Go and Autism

Pokemon Go and Autism

By Jenna on November 4th, 2016
North Shore Pediatric Blog, North Shore Teen & Young Adult Blog, Play Pals North Shore Blog, Madison Pediatric Blog

Let’s go outside! Children with autism often times struggle to complete activities for which they find little purpose. Going outside to play or heading to a playdate may not be at the top of their list of priorities, so often times this may result in noncompliance or refusals. However, in order to play Pokemon it is required to leave the house. It is also a very structured experience, in that the rules and rewards are always consistent. Therefore, it provides both a purpose to go outside and motivation to stay outside and keep playing!

Let’s talk! The basis of most conversations is mutual interest. Often times, children with autism have very specific and intense interests, which can make it very difficult to find someone else with the same interest. With Pokemon Go, conversations are endless! Which ones have you caught? Where did you catch them? How many Pikachus have you gotten? Social anxiety can seem like a distant memory when we are caught up in something we love, which makes it much easier to keep the conversation going and learn some new skills!

Blending in! A common fear for many parents of a child with ASD is that they will stand out amongst their peers, whether due to problem behaviors or narrowed interests. When given a common thread, every child is on a level playing field regardless of skill, and the focus is directed towards the game so it is much easier for children to blend in with their peers. These types of situations provide an opportunity for natural learning to occur and for all children to learn something from each other!

Watch out! Safety skills are one of the most important, and one of the most difficult, things to teach a child. When taught outside of the natural environment, they are foreign concepts that make little sense. However, we are often hesitant to teach these skills in the natural environment and it is not very motivating without a purpose. As stated before, the game requires the player to be outside, which fosters motivation. It also lends itself to incorporating safety skills training while the learner is trying to catch those little critters! If you see a Charmander across the street, take the opportunity to prompt looking both ways before crossing. If you come to a stoplight, talk about the different colors and what they mean. Pokemon Go makes learning safety skills essential, as well as fun!

For more tips on how to use this and other games to help support social skills and ABA programming, talk to your consultant today!