How Pokémon Go Can Help Everyone on the Spectrum
Feel whatever you like about Pokémon Go, but there’s no doubt that a huge number of the population across the world has fallen in love with the game. And no one more so than those on the autism spectrum and those that care for them.
The app has been in the news recently for helping children with Asperger’s and other social difficulties get out in public and interact with other Pokémon Go players. This provides a daily dose of social activity they wouldn’t normally achieve and doing it in a way that they’re comfortable with and, better yet, think is fun.
Stephanie Barnhill, is a mother of a 12 year old boy with Asperger’s. She recently told CNN that Pokémon Go has helped her son leave the house and socialise, which he’s normally scared to do.
“He’s not a go-outside-and-play kind of kid. But this game has enabled him to want to reach out to people and strike up conversations about creatures that they’ve caught.”
In an article for The Mighty, mother of an autistic son, Elizabeth Barnes, stated that “the boy who fantasized about his whole summer being in front of his computer was voluntarily outside walking around.” They regularly stop by other kids playing the game, say "hi" and share their Pokémon experiences before moving on.
And it’s not just the mothers of those on the spectrum seeing a change for the better in their children after playing Pokémon Go. Craig Smith, an educator, researcher and autism expert has just created a guide for parents to use to help educate their children using Pokémon Go. The guide aims to help kids outside of the classroom with a clear focus on the apps ability to allow them to interact with the real world. It seems even with its simple interface, kids and parents alike can benefit from tips on the game. Smith told Gizmodo Australia:
“The real world social aspect of Pokémon Go is unlike anything I have ever experienced with a video game. Even Minecraft, with its near ubiquitous take up by gamers world wide and continued massive interest in educational spaces and for YouTubers everywhere, did not have the immediate social impact that Pokémon Go has engaged since its launch.”
And it’s not just young children either that are experiencing the first hand benefits of the game. This teenager has had his life transformed by Pokémon Go. Preferring to stay inside for the past five years playing computer games, he’s now been able to switch it up and take his virtual reality outside with him into the real world. In an interview with BBC, the teenager’s mother got teary-eyed thanks to the game. “I’ve not seen him this relaxed and happy in a public place for so long. It really means a lot. It’s like I’ve got a bit of my son back.”
Whether you’re a fan of the game yourself or not, there’s no doubt that Pokémon Go is able to hugely help those on the spectrum and those off it with their social skills and getting out and about.