What does the research tell us about autism and video games? There’s all kinds of anecdotal evidence out there linking children on the autism spectrum with a fondness for video games — but what are the facts?
Moreover, is it healthy to let a child with autism indulge in their interest in video games? Or should they be steered towards more constructive behavior?
Those are some of the many questions that this article will help you discover answers to. There have been many studies done on autism and video games, and we’re going to reference some of the best ones for you here in this post.
Findings From Studies on Autism and Video Games
A study from Penn State found parents actually embrace their child’s use of video games. Why? According to the study: “… video game use among children with ASD could potentially aid them in building relationships with children who do not have ASD”.
A study from Sally Ozonous and colleagues concluded that swapping out traditional paper and pencil tests with computer testing yielded greater results in children on the autism spectrum. This could suggest that children on the autism spectrum perform better when interacting with technology.
Another study suggests that children on the autism spectrum are measurably more driven when it comes to following through with computer assisted instruction. Computer programs can be used to assist with things like language, communication, and development both socially and emotionally.
One more possible reason why children with autism may be drawn to video games is the fact that visual tools can assist with everyday activities like task completion, socializing, and the ability to play with others. Specifically, studies were done supporting the fact that electronic visuals were especially helpful in these cases.
Video games can help reduce your child’s pattern of repetitive behavior. The Games for Health Journal outlines strategies involving video games that can be used to introduce more flexibility and adaptability to your child’s behavior.
Autism and video games can also work together a different way. The video games on this site, for example, have been specially designed to help identify and learn more about the strengths and limitations of your autistic child. Our games are completely free for your child to play, so we recommend introducing them to your child if he or she enjoys video games.
It may appear that there has been a lot of research done on autism and video games, but there’s still a lot more research that could be done in this area. The research thus far shows a positive connection between autistic children and videogames, but there is potential to learn a lot more about this subject.
Autism and Video Games: Be Careful Not to Overindulge
Of course, be careful not to let your child overindulge in their interest in video games. A study published on Autism Speaks warns that children with autism are more prone to develop an addiction to video games.
With that being said, it’s a good idea to limit your child’s playing time, but not to discourage video game play altogether. It’s also important to note that the doctor quoted in the Autism Speaks study points out the positive aspects of autism and video games.
“Using screen-based technologies, communication and social skills could be taught and reinforced right away,” says Dr. Mazurek in the study, adding that more research is needed into the practical applications in real life.