Engaging Kids with Autism: Can Online Multiplayer Games Help?

One in about 88 people worldwide is afflicted by some form of autism, a developmental disorder that is first detected in the early stages of childhood. The severity of each diagnosis can range through a wide spectrum that relates back to problems in basic brain development. For children struggling to deal with the effects of autism, communication and sometimes the simplest of social skills are extremely difficult to handle and can also manifest unusual behavioral habits.

As a result, in recent years, many parents and educators have turned to computer-based video games as a creative learning tool to help engage children with autism. For these kids, who are unable to connect with the world around them, the virtual quality of online games like JumpStart can become a much easier reality to process. With these games, players are allowed to assume the roles of online avatars, which can help them more easily digest information and accomplish in-game goals on their own terms. Due to the solitary nature of activities like playing “massively multiplayer online” games, more popularly known as MMOs, these types of role playing games can often be used as an alternative means of therapy or treatment for kids dealing with debilitating social anxieties due to autism.

More specifically, MMOs like JumpStart encourage players to interact with other gamers through in-game chat systems or other online communities like blogs, social networks, and forums. It is through these avenues that children with autism are able to connect with their online peers without stress, which, in their case, can come with common face-to-face interaction. Additionally, the strategy that goes into progressing through these types of games can be easier for autistic players to understand and are often much more predictable than the complexities of real life dealings. With players that exhibit signs of autism, this can allow them the freedom to do things they would have otherwise never felt comfortable enough to attempt.

As each case of autism can vary greatly with regard to symptoms, not all children will find the same comfort in gaming. If you have a loved one struggling with this developmental disorder, you might want see how they react to playing MMOs and other online games or even certain mobile apps. For kids still in the early learning stages, you might even consider signing them up for one of JumpStart’s interactive educational online worlds like JumpStart or Math Blaster .

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