We have come to the point where discussions about the effects of technological advancements to the condition of autistic individuals have become inevitable. As more and more game applications are being made every day to respond to the growing market for gaming hardware and electronic device, parents can’t help but feel constantly worried about their autistic child’s response to video games. Aware of what gaming addiction can do to a child’s lifestyle and future, many skeptic parents try their best to keep any kind of video game unknown to their child. There are also research findings that somehow back this notion about video games, claiming that children on the autism spectrum become overly focused on playing video games that they can spend the whole day doing nothing aside from this. When it turns into an obsession, autistic children might not want to participate in other developmental activities or therapy sessions which are essential for early intervention.

There are also parents who believe that playing video games provides positive results. In the context of play, autistic children fall behind their neurotypical counterparts in the aspects of role playing, toy recognition, and interaction. With the help of video games, these parents believe that their autistic child can learn how to play in a more conventional and proper way. This ongoing debate about the pros and cons of video games in honing autistic kids has led to the discovery of more potential benefits despite the disadvantages.

Video Games Provide The Ideal Venue to Train Social and Communication Skills

Believe it or not, the video games of today have more social elements embedded to them compared to their older generations. With the advancement in programming and device capabilities, modern video games offer interactive platforms where players can join up in a party or group, especially in cooperative games, to complete quests, win fights, and earn rewards. There are also trading systems, where in-game items can be traded between players while they exchange offers through chat channels, and guild systems where a player can join a specific guild of their choice and find ways to improve their banner and promote it to others. There is also the player versus player (PVP) type of video games where contenders can talk to each other and offer suggestions to improve.

These features provide autistic kids the avenue to improve their social skills and communication. The idea of meeting and talking to people will become less daunting to them when they continuously interact with other players in video games. However, there are still important aspects that autistic kids can’t efficiently learn from video games, which include facial expression, gestures, intonation and other social cues. But when the child has developed a strong interest in a specific video game, the family can use this interest to start conversations and small talks that can somehow simulate social interaction and communication with other people. For autistic kids with social and communication challenges, playing video games is a good way to improve themselves in this area.

Video Games Make Autistic Kids More Flexible and Teaches Them to Properly Deal With Failures

Many video games today are designed to be complex, which means that a player can encounter different kinds of situations while they are in the game. This includes solving a puzzle, getting stuck in a specific stage, and not knowing what to do. A lot of video games have difficulty levels that are relatively hard to overcome in a single try. Problem-solving must be done in a more flexible approach rather than a linear one. Hence, it is normal for players to fail many times before they can finally proceed, and they are encouraged to think intuitively and outside the box in order to look for better solutions. In this manner, video games are very helpful in teaching autistic kids how to properly deal with failures and frustrations, while learning from them. It also gives them the courage to try new things that are outside of their comfort zone, making them less rigid to follow routines and become more adaptive to changes.

Video Games Help Improve Motor Skills

Different types of video games can help improve different motor skills in autistic children. Mobile, console, and PC games are good for those who are having difficulty with fine motor skills or movements that require the coordination of the eyes and small body parts such as the hands and fingers. A lot of these games introduce character combos or combination of techniques, which need the eyes and hands to be synchronized in order for a specific set of in-game movements to be successfully performed.

With the introduction of motion-sensing games from famous companies like Kinect by Microsoft, Wii by Nintendo, and Move by Sony’s PlayStation, autistic kids can develop their gross motor skills or movements that involve the coordination between the large body parts such as the arms and legs. They can even enjoy playing this game together with the whole family or group of friends, which further increases interaction.

Video Games Increase the Effectiveness of Traditional Teaching and Training Methods

Many autism experts today are now utilizing the charm of video games in introducing their modern twist of the traditional training and teaching methods for autistic children. They initiate the programming of video game applications that are designed to improve many developmental aspects of autistic kids who are able to play them. There are many key factors that make video games better than the conventional techniques of early intervention programs. First, autistic kids are drawn to video games because they provide high visual input. Second, video games limit the presence of social factors that somehow affect the child’s participation. Third, these games are highly interactive and interesting for many children, especially those who have sensory issues who like to push buttons or touch screens. Fourth, autistic kids prefer video games because they are the ones who control the pace, which helps reduce anxiety and pressure in most cases.