According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 88 children in the U.S. has autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a broad group of neurodevelopmental disorders. Children and adolescents with ASD are typically fascinated by screen-based technology such as video games, and these can be used for educational and treatment purposes, as described in an insightful Roundtable Discussion published in Games for Health Journal: Research Development, and Clinical Applications, a peer-reviewed publication from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.
Individuals with ASD have difficulty with communication and social interaction, but they often have particularly good visual perceptual 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.
Autism is a growing area of interest for the gamification community, and Games for Health Journal continues to explore various aspects of how videogame technology can be beneficial in treating this complex spectrum of disorders. In a previous issue of the Journal, the article "Comparing Energy Expenditure in Adolescents with and without Autism while Playing Nintendo® Wii™ Games" (http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/g4h.2011.0019) described how gaming might help individuals with ASD increase their daily physical activity to prevent obesity.
"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.
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