We believe that every child deserves to have a friend. Often making friends is harder for kids with autism, Asperger’s, and ADHD. They need extra help to develop social skills such as being with the group, understanding what’s happening next, communication, and looking at who is talking.
Many times it’s because they don’t pick up cues from other kids in the same ways that neurotypical children do.
My wife and I have always made helping our boys improve their social skills a priority. That’s where the inspiration for creating The Social Express began.
Eileen Campos’ recent blog post at MommyTeaches.com got me thinking even more about the different ways you can approach social skills learning for your child. Video game playing in a group of children is a top one!
Eileen writes about how she’s observed her children improve their math and reading skills while playing video games. Like one explaining to the others why he has more points. (Love that!) You can read Eileen’s post here.
I’ve observed how video games played in a group help a child with autism improve how he or she gets along with others. Here are three ideas you can try with your child.
How Group Video Games Help Autistic Kids with Social Skills
1. Encourage Group Video Game Playing for Best Social Interaction
Arrange for your child to play selected video games with siblings or other children. This leads to basic social interaction. Eileen said that she recalls learning a few things from engaging in video games with her brothers and sisters.
She learned about good sportsmanship by interacting with other kids using video games. It taught her how to debate with her siblings in a verbal but non-threatening way. For example, your kids may be talking about who has more points, who’s ahead in the game and why.
2. Video Game Social Interaction Helps Critical Thinking Skills
Playing video games with other kids focuses your child on working on critical thinking skills. Especially: “what happens next”. This is one of the big advantages to the social interaction with others during video game play.
With social skill development a key goal is helping your child understand social interactions better. Experience helps so much.
3. Group Game Play Supports How to be Part of the Group
Other key social skills for our kids with autism and ADHD are learning how to be a part of the group and to communicate. I think the discussions that kids have while playing these games are valuable for communicating with the group. Seeing who’s turn it is. Sharing how well each child thinks they’re doing. This is all good!
Kevin J. Roberts writes about how important video game time was for his group of students during a summer camp week. They scheduled video game console time for the kids (aged 8-11) around the many outdoor activities. Kevin found that the boys, especially those with ADHD improved their ability to take turns and communicate with others. He observed this improvement when it was time to share the video consoles. You can read his blog by clicking here
Change Out Video Games with Other Tools
I completely agree with Eileen’s caution that she’s not advocating non-stop video game playing by your kids. Everything in moderation! Changing out video game play for different learning programs, outdoor play, and other group interaction is a must.
I also recommend that when you have anything on an iPad or computer for your child to use—either a video game or a learning program, to change them out. Don’t let them play with one too long. As soon as they’ve improved that set of skills, change them over to a different learning program or video game.
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