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Videogaming May Help Children with Autism

Update Date: Sep 05, 2012 11:58 AM EDT

Videogaming may have therapeutic proponents for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, (ASD) or children suffering from "classic" autism, Aspergers syndrome, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that 1 out of 88 children in the U.S. Are diagnosed with one or more of these three conditions.

Many therapeutic and clinical counseling methods exist to help stem the classic symptoms of communication and social interaction deficiencies associated with ASD.

But an insightful study published in Games for Health Journal: Research Development, and Clinical Applications, a peer-reviewed publication from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc reveals that children and adolescents with ASD are typically fascinated by screen-based technology such as videogames, which can be used for educational and treatment purposes.

Though lacking in social skills, kids with ASD often demonstrate good to exceptional visual perception skills and respond well to visual stimuli. Videogames offer opportunities for successful learning, motivation to improve skills such as planning, organization, and self-monitoring, and reinforcement of desired behaviors without the need for direct human-to-human interaction.

"Children and young adults with ASD have unique opportunities to capitalize on their interest and aptitude in videogames as a resource to develop desired social behaviors and life skills and to increase their physical activity," says Games for Health Journal Editor-in-Chief Bill Ferguson, PhD, who moderated the Roundtable.

According to a study overview, games are increasingly becoming an important didactic tool  for improving health behaviors ranging from healthy lifestyle habits and behavior modification, to self-management of illness and chronic conditions to motivating and supporting physical activity.

Many smartphone apps have games designed specifically for children and researchers reveal that until special games can be designed to target autistic audiences, parents can benefit from letting their children play adventure-learning games as well as hidden-object games to increase attention span and social cooperation in interactive play. 

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