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Autism and Pokémon: Go?

A new mobile game is igniting some sparks in children with Autism. Pokémon Go, is a mobile based Pokémon Gogaming application which uses GPS and reality to encourage users to “Catch them all” throughout neighborhood and local areas. Many children with Autism, who already gravitate to video games and electronics, are certainly interested in the craze.

Although the game and its effects has not been thoroughly researched, below I will list some possible benefits to introducing your child to Pokémon Go:

  • Pokémon Go Encourages Preferred Play in New Environments and Combating Rigidity – Many children with Autism are already highly interested in video games. However, often times, children with video games are able to enjoy this reinforcement in insolation whether it is in their rooms or in a small corner in the living room. Pokémon Go is sending users to areas outside the home such as the local park, the neighbor’s house, and dare I say it, Home Depot. The child who never wants to go to the park is now begging to go to the park!!
  • Pokémon Go Encourages Social Interactions – The amazing phenomenon to come from Pokémon Go, is its adaptability to all types of users: typical and children with Autism. Children are linking in random places, all trying to catch a Pokémon. Very meaningful conversations can arise from these meet-ups: “How many Pokémon do you have?” and “Have you found Pikachu yet?” Unlike most video games, Pokémon Go heavily relies on the knowledge of other users who are playing the game as well to find out the most popular places to catch Pokémon and thus encourages interactions with individuals whom children with Autism may otherwise have nothing in common with. They are all simply trying to “Catch them all.”
  • Pokémon Go Encourages Parents to Learn More About Their Child’s Needs – Parents often struggle with how to speak to their children’s world. Pokémon Go encourages bonding opportunities, especially with younger children, because parents need to supervise the outings. Parents are having opportunities to see their children shriek and smile like never before. In addition, learning the pragmatics of the game can help parents to seek out other alternatives and strategies to try with their child that have the same function and may yield similar results.

Lastly, while Pokémon Go can possibly yield answers to the Autism Community on how to get our children out of the house and interacting with the outside world.

Here are some important Pokémon Go tips for parents:

  • Children should not be allowed to roam neighborhoods or public places alone.
  • Teach your children whom it is safe to speak Pokémon with and whom it may not.
  • Talk to your children about safety at Pokéstops; avoid dark and isolated places
  • Encourage Poképlay in small or large groups of friends.

Oh, and did I mention, children are learning some pretty cool Pokémon names in the process…

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

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Faith Champ

Faith Champ

Faith Champ is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst with over four years experience in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis. She earned her Master of Arts in Psychology and Certificate of BCBA Re-specialization from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Faith spent three years focusing on the pediatric population primarily in home where she worked to address behavioral concerns during meal time, play time, after- school academics/tutoring, potty-training, parent-coaching and bed-time support. Faith has extensive experience in providing school support through IEP meetings, as a shadow/school aide and building rapport with teachers and school staff. Additional education experience include Graduate certificates in Child Advocacy and Public Policy, and Early Childhood Administration, Management, and Leadership.

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