Gaming

Bell Cause: video games, technology and the autism spectrum

What is autism? Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a DSM-5 diagnostic terminology that refers to a neurodevelopmental disorder; which affects the areas of motor, language, cognitive, social development …

In the community, the labels “ASD” or “person with autism” can be interpreted as negative and stigmatizing. Therefore, it is recommended to use the terms “autistic person” or “autistic”.

An autistic person may have significant difficulty in:

  • Communication and social interactions;
  • specific behavior, activities and interests, stereotypes (self-stimulation);
  • But also underlying difficulties such as general fatigue, sensory hypersensitivity or hyposensitivity, hyperemotionality, need for routine and flexibility difficulties, controlled and special diets, and autistic crises.

Autism and technology

Several scientific studies have examined the impact of technology use on learning for people with autism. Thus, the use of computers, tablets and mobile applications will help develop communication skills, autonomy and social skills (Ángeles, M., 2019; Aagaard, 2015; Grossard, & Grynszpan, 2015; Parsons & Cobb, 2011).

Over the years, several digital resources have demonstrated their usefulness in educating people with autism, here are some of the resources endorsed by the Quebec Federation of Autism:

  • Let me tell; communication application using CAA (Advanced and Alternative Communication) technologies.
  • Nicky Tok; a communication application that creates online pictogram albums with selected language and voice.
  • AutoPlan; to create charts that aid in stress management and time management.
  • Create it; promote the development of visual perception and fine motor skills.
  • Auto; help in recognizing emotions and facial expressions through recognition games and animated images.
  • Emotions of autism; application to help in the study of emotions through music and images.
  • Logical; Watch videos at your own pace with 16 speed levels.
  • Lexical comprehension 1; app for kids and adults to develop language through play.
  • Social story creator and library; to create, share and print social scenarios.

Video games and people with autism

In recent years, some video games have also been developed to help people with autism with communication and social learning.

  • Life of Aspi; a game from Enderlost Studios that puts you in the shoes of an autistic person who finds himself alone, and which recreates the perception of the world in the vision of an autistic person.
  • CARA; an educational video game to help autistic people by embodying a caregiver who supports Adam (the young autistic in the game) in overcoming life’s challenges in society.
  • Pico’s adventure; Kinect game for developing social skills and verbal and non-verbal communication through interaction with the mascot.
  • Palaka; A video game from the Reflector studio in which the player embodies the guardian of the path of reincarnation passed by the souls. The nanny must help a struggling child transition to another world through a guided world of sound and visual cues, social interactions and independent play.

Is the game suitable?

Research has even observed and identified characteristics of video game design that allow these games to be better adapted to the realities of autistic people. Here are some characteristics to look out for when choosing a game or mobile app for autistic people.

Does the game or mobile app integrate?

  • Objectives: To promote inclusion of autistic people (to promote the creation of an environment adapted for autistic people) or integration of autistic people (adapt the behavior of autistic people through digital assistance).
  • User-centric design to identify the abilities, needs and desires of autistic users.
  • Digital tools to help people with autism;
  • Alternative and Augmented Communication (AAC), therefore the integration of communication systems, strategies and tools to replace or supplement speech in a game, for example: digital technology through voice synthesis.
  • Virtual reality technologies to assist in learning, to overcome the physical and cognitive barriers of social integration.
  • Use of humanoid robots.

monitor

Despite these scientific and technological advances, some studies report a higher risk of addiction and social isolation in autistic children than in typical children (Grynszpan & Brosnan, 2019; Aresti-Bartolome & Garcia-Zapirain, 2014; Mazurek & Engelhardt, 2013) .

Therefore, it is always important to monitor your child’s healthy play habits and combine learning through games and technology with learning through contact and interaction with people.

READ ALSO: Bell Cause: The Best Games That Touch or Benefit Your Mental Health

Resources

Accessible games database: https://accessiblegamesdatabase.com/

Aspie Life: https://store.steampowered.com/app/786410/An_Aspie_Life/

Children’s application: https://app-enfant.fr/applications/category/autisme/

Autism Center in Quebec: https://www.autisme-cq.com/sensibilisation/

Asperger’s Autism and Video Games: Social Cognitive Issues and Challenges: https://jesuisungameur.com/2021/06/02/autisme-asperger-jeux-video/

Can I play this?: https://caniplaythat.com/

DAGERSystem Gaming enabled: https://dagersystem.com/

Eliza Gravel; what is autism? (Poster): http://elisegravel.com/blog/annonce-a-impression-cest-quoi-lautisme/

Family Games Database: https://www.taminggaming.com/en-us/games

FIRAH: Applied Research on Disability: https://www.firah.org/fr/autisme-et-nouvelles-technologies.html

Game Accessibility Guide: https://gameaccessibilityguidelines.com/

Game Maker Toolkit (YouTube): https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqJ-Xo29CKyLTjn6z2XwYAw

Noel (2022). Availability in video games. https://www.gameher.fr/blog/laccessibilite-dans-les-jeux-video

Pico’s Adventure: https://www.inteled.org/picos-adventure/

ASD and Neuroatypical: A Better Understanding. A guide to understanding the functioning of a person with an autism spectrum disorder. https://www.autisme-cq.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/TSA-et-Neurotypique-Mieux-se-comprendre-21.pdf

References

Aagaard J. (2015) Distraction: A qualitative study of the use of educational technology outside of work. Computers and Education, 87, 90–97.

Angeles Mairena, M., Mora-Guyar, J., Malinverni, L., Padillo, V., Valero, L., Hervas, A., Pares, N. (2019). Full body interactive video game used as a tool to stimulate social initiation in children with autism spectrum disorders, Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 67. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rasd.2019.101438.

Aresti-Bartolome N., Garcia-Zapirain B. (2014). Technology as support tools for people with autism spectrum disorders: a systematic review. Public Health Int J Environ Res, Volume 11 (8): 7767-802. Doi: 10.3390/ijerph110807767

Couture, K. (2020). Excessive video game play in people with autism spectrum disorder. Psycause: Student Scientific Journal of the Department of Psychology, Laval University, 10(1), 18-27.

Variety in the Game (2022). Neuroatypical people. Available online: https://www.diversite-en-jeu.ca/fr/personnes-neuroatypiques/

Quebec Autism Federation (2022). Applications in French for digital tablets. Available online: http://www.autisme.qc.ca/la-boite-a-outils/applicationspour-tablettes-numeriques.html

Grossar, K. & Grynszpan, O. (2015). Teaching digital skills for autism: a review. Childhood, 1, 67-85. https://doi.org/10.3917/enf1.151.0067

Grynszpan, O., & Brosnan, M. (2019). Development and implementation of a framework for evidence-based practice of technologies relevant to autism. BETA: Collecting data on technology and autism. APa2016_026. Retrieved from https://www.firah.org/upload/l-appel-a-projets/projets-laureats/2019/ebp/rapport-final-ebp.pdf

Hedges, H, S., Odom, S., Hume, K., Sam, A. (2018). Using technology as a support tool for high school students with autism. Autism, Volume 22(01), 70-79. doi: 10.1177/1362361317717976

Kornblau, L., B., & Robertson, S., M. (2021). Special issue on occupational therapy with neurodivergent people. American Journal of Occupational Therapy Vol. 75(3). https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2021.753001

Malinverni, L., Mora-Guyar, J., Padillo, V., Valero, L., Hervas, A., & Pares, N. (2017). An inclusive approach to developing video games for children with autism spectrum disorders. Computers in Human Behavior, 71, 535–549. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2016.01.018

Mazurek, M. & Engelhardt, K. (2013). Video game use and problem behavior in boys with autism spectrum disorders. Autism Spectrum Disorder Research, 7(2), 316-324.

Mazurek, M., Engelhardt, K., Clark, K. (2015). Video games from the perspective of adults with autism spectrum disorder. Computers in Human Behavior, Volume 51.122-130, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2015.04.062.

Parsons, S. & Cobb, S. (2011). Modern technologies of virtual reality for children with autism. European Journal of Special Education, Volume 26. 355-366. 10.1080/08856257.2011.593831.

Virole, B. (2014). Autism and digital tablets. Childhood and Psychology, 63, 123-134. https://doi.org/10.3917/ep.063.0123

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