Posts

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!

Find-Out-More-About-Autism

Video Games That Get You Moving

Getting your child off the couch and active can be challenging. With video games and iPads, it can be hard to pry your child away from the screens. But what if the screens can work for you? There are many video games on various systems that get your body moving, heart rate up, and can be a lot of fun!

Here are a few games on different systems that will surely make your child break a sweat while having a great time!Blog-Video-Games-Main-Portrait

  1. Xbox – Kinect Sports

Kinect Sports uses a sensor to track your body movements while playing fun sports games including soccer, volleyball, baseball and more. Unlike other systems that only track your upper body, Kinect Sports also tracks your legs for a full body workout!

If you are looking for more intense activities, try Track and Field. Go for the gold in sprints, hurdles, the long jump, and discus – you’ll feel like you’re in the Olympics!

  1. Wii Sports

Wii Sports uses a wand controller to simulate the real game. This systems features games like baseball, golf, tennis, boxing and bowling. The greatest part: you can play against a friend!

  1. PlayStation Move + Eye

The PlayStation Move is a wand controller that works with the PlayStation Eye camera to track the player’s movements. Because some of the games use both the wand and the Eye, you will be put into the game, literally! The PlayStation Move features games such as soccer, tennis, bowling, golf, dancing, and more.

  1. Just Dance – Xbox 360, Wii and PlayStation

Just Dance is compatible with many systems that use a camera to track your movements. You can dance with three of your friends to today’s top hits and yesterday’s classics. This is my personal favorite to have fun and exercise in a creative way.

Now that you have a list of some awesome, fun games for your home system, it’s time to get active and move your body!

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff and Des Plaines. 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 today!

Developing Hand-Eye Coordination

Hand-eye coordination is the synchronization of eye and hand movements. It involves proprioception (knowing where your body is in space) combined with processing visual input. Any task that requires the coordination of vision and hand movements involves hand-eye coordination. Examples of hand-eye coordination include grasping objects, catching and throwing a ball, playing an instrument while reading music, reading and writing, or playing a video game.

Hand-Eye Coordination in Infants

There are many ways to encourage development of hand-eye coordination in a child. Just like any other skill, the more time spent doing activities that involve hand-eye coordination, the easier the skill will become. In infants, reaching and playing with objects and toys are great ways to foster development of hand-eye coordination. As they get older and are able to sit independently, you can play with balls, encouraging the baby to roll and corral them. Playing with blocks and other toys that involve putting something in or taking something out are also great ways for an infant to develop this skill.

Hand-Eye Coordination in Toddlers

With toddlers, continue to play with various sized and textured balls to develop hand-eye coordination. By the age of three, a toddler should be able to “fling” a ball forwards and catch a ball against their chest. To help develop his aim, you can practice tossing balls into hula-hoops or targets on a wall (start with big targets and get smaller as the child progresses and gets older). To practice catching with only the hands, start with bigger and softer balls (like koosh balls or bean bags). Progress to smaller and harder balls (like a tennis ball) as the child gets older.

Hand-Eye Coordination in 4 Year Olds and Older

Coloring and creating crafts is another fun and great way to develop hand-eye coordination. Some fun crafts to do include stringing beads or macaroni, finger painting, or playing with play-dough. When a child is four years or older, games that involve slight hand movements can also further facilitate growth in this area. Examples of these games are Jenga, Honey-Bee Tree, or Topple (all available at any toy store). Complex puzzles, Legos, or building blocks are other great hand-eye coordination activities.

Children who have poor hand-eye coordination often refuse or choose not to participate in activities that involve this skill. The activities mentioned above can be very beneficial in assisting these children in improving their hand-eye coordination. Some children struggle immensely with every-day activities due to poor coordination skills. These children may require extra assistance from an occupational therapist or a physical therapist.

Love What You Read?  Click Here To Subscribe To Our Blogs Via Email!

Benefits of Limiting Screen Time

We currently live in a world revolving around electronics with computer screens, tv screens, phone screens, tablet screens, video game screens, etc. While many electronic programs geared towards children are educational, there are also benefits to turning the power buttons off and playing within a child’s physical world.

As an occupational therapist, I prefer to use real board games in my sessions rather than their electronic counter-parts because of the skills that are developed while playing board games.

Benefits of playing board games versus video games includes developing:

  • Visual-motor skillsvideo game controller
  • Fine motor skills
  • Sensory-motor experiences
  • Motor planning
  • Coordination
  • Social engagement with others
  • Turn taking skills
  • Organization
  • Self-monitoring skills

For example, board games such as Angry Birds or Rush Hour differs from video games because the video game already has each piece in place and no set-up is involved, whereas the board game requires the player to plan how to place pieces onto the board exactly as shown from a card in order to successfully begin the game.

Many board games also require significantly more motor planning, dexterity and upper extremity control than their video game counter-parts. Think of playing a game of solitaire on the computer which requires one motion of clicking the mouse and moving the mouse exactly where you want it to go in order to move the cards versus playing the same game of solitaire with a deck of cards which requires fine motor skills, motor planning and dexterity involved with shuffling the deck, turning the cards over and picking up only one card in your fingers at a time. Other benefits also may include counting the cards to ensure you are starting with a full deck and the planning, sequencing and organization that is involved with setting up the game.

In conclusion, I encourage a healthy balance between screen time and playing in the physical world, as there are many benefits to turning off the electronics in order to learn through play.

 Love What You Read?  Click Here To Subscribe To Our Blogs Via Email!

How To Get Your Child Outside And Active In The Summer

Battling Their Electronic Friends

Parents often struggle with getting their children out and about during the summertime. Many children are perfectly content with watching televisiHappy Boy in Lawn Sprinkler With Friendson, playing video games, or playing on the computer for hours. It’s often up to parents to make sure their children are engaging in outdoor activities and staying active.

If you feel like you’re in a constant battle with the electronic devices in your home, it’s time to get creative and get your children outside. Below are some helpful suggestions to encourage them to be more active in the summer.

Fun Outside Activities For Children

Get Wet! Spend time at your community pool. If a community pool is not an option, then use your backyard for some water fun! You can have water balloon tosses, water bucket races, or play with squirt guns or water squirt toys. You can even dance and play in the sprinkler. Get a kiddie pool or a big tub and fill it up with your children’s favorite bath toys.

Get Dirty! Dig and play in the dirt. Plant flowers or search for different kinds of bugs. Give your child a magnifying glass and see what kind of treasures they can find! You can also bring out your children’s favorite toy trucks/trains and Lego blocks and create different communities for them to travel through. You and your child could start your own vegetable garden. You can plant tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, and other veggies. Children will not only be fascinated when they see their veggies growing, they will learn about the growing process, too!

Get Artsy! Bring a table outside so your child can have their own little art area. Provide them with markers, crayons, paints and lots of paper, and let them explore their creative side. Outdoors is the perfect place for messy finger painting. Have your child create pictures or play games (e.g. Tic-Tac-Toe or Hopscotch) on your driveway or sidewalk with sidewalk chalk.

Get Educated! If you can, walk or bike to your local library. While at the library, have your child check out different books that they are interested in, and have story time outside. You can also check out books about different plants, flowers, birds and insects, and take these books to the nature center or your backyard and try to find the different creatures.

Get Gaming! Play different outdoor games and invite some of the neighborhood children to play, too. Some different games that you can play are: Hide-and-Seek, Follow the Leader, Red Light – Green Light, Red Rover, Kickball, Four Square, Kick the Can, Hopscotch, Capture the Flag, or Horse/Pig and other basketball games, to name a few. “Inside” games like board games and card games can also be moved to a table outdoors.

• Get Picking! Look into going to different orchards or farms so that you and your children can pick your own fruits and veggies. Then, pack some of them into a basket and have picnic in the park for lunch.

Other Outdoor Options

  • Have naptime outside
  • Take a trip to the zoo
  • Bike, rollerblade or skateboard
  • Blow bubbles, jump rope or hula hoop

VIDEO GAME VIOLENCE: Will it affect my Child’s Behavior?

Research on Video Games and Aggressive Behavior

There has been a lot of debate about whether or not violence in video games can lead to an increase in maladaptive behaviors in children. As much as parents want to try to keep children and adolescents away from violent games, many children will find a way to play them. One research study revealed that approximately 70 % of American teenage boys between the ages of 13-17 have played the violent videogame Grand Theft Auto, in which the goal of the game is to steal cars and murder people. Another research study indicated that the less exposure that children have to violent games, the less aggressive behavior the children exhibit. Furthermore, a rather large research study concluded that aggressive video games lead to aggressive behaviors in children.

The question remains as to whether or not children who play violent video games are at increased risk to exhibit aggressive behavior; or is it that aggressive children tend to want to engage in aggressive activities? Regardless of the causality of preference for violent games and aggressive behavior, it is important to recognize that the children who play these violent games are at increased risk to be aggressive.  Read more