201: Hard-Wired for Gaming

Hard-Wired for Gaming

Progressive parents have long known that videogames are a great motivator in their kids' lives. But for Jamie Dunston and her son Pearce, gaming is much more than that: It's a way for her to help him overcome some of the most difficult challenges posed by autism.

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This is a great read! I have a mildly autistic cousin, and I remember that he was playing Mario, Mario 64, Mario Kart and GoldenEye 007 when he was four and five, and doing not half badly. He loved (and loves) video games and it's still a great way to connect with him.

Thank you for sharing, this article was a good read and it's refreshing to see parent's use video games to help their children.

Myself mildly suffering Autism, I see this a very intuitive way to teach your son about socialising, friendship, goals, and consequences for his actions.

Love this article.
Not only did you touch upon the greater uses of gaming, but it was also a really nice story.


I'll have to agree with Pearce... The silicon sleeves do not belong.

Also, great article!

Good article. My wife is very anti-gaming (something I obviously didn't fully realize before marriage) and seeing some tangible benefits to gaming may at least sway her a little bit and not be a Nazi-esque mother when it comes to video games down the road with our kids..

Excellent article! Great to see positive writings about the effects of gaming, rather then the usal newspaper hyperbole.

Fascinating read, thank you for sharing. I particularly noted the use of a question to imply intention (stopping playing with toys).

Wonderful article!
Just wonderful!

I must admit that this is one of the best gaming related articles I've read in a while. It reminds me of the times I played computer games with my ex's younger brother. Eventually we ended up playing Gran Turismo 3 because he loved cars and games. For all his problems he had a better knowledge of cars than I do!

Gaming is my life as well...I have an education and a career which have priority...but my life (when I am not working) is gaming...gaming is mainstream now, and it can be an addiction...people LIVE on games...(some high scores are proof)...although yes I concede this case is special.....

I love articles like these.
I hope I aint insensitive when I say that as a psychology student, I find the idea FASCINATING. And as for the use of second life, truly amazing. Gaming gets too much flakk cause of freaky kids killing themselves over Everquest, or people gaming themselves to death due to not eating/getting uric acid poisoning.

There was an article recently in the Daily Mail (Yes, I know it is not a newspaper, but impressionable fools believe it) claiming that World of Warcraft is more addictive then Heroin. Articles like this remind me that not everyone thinks that gaming is of the devil. If im honest, Gaming taught me so much. I learnt my left and right due to my father giving me directions in the game "Driver" on the PS1 while I was young. Playing stratergy games online taught me quite a lot about social interactions, amoungst other things.

Gaming brings whole communities together. If someone can name another medium in which I can end up talking to some random person halfway across the world for several hours while doing something else that annihilates the awkwardness of talking to someone you have never met before, well... That person will be a very happy and popular person. Till then, I will stick with PuG's in everyones favorite time sink.

My cousin is autistic and my girlfirends little bother has aspergers sydrome (a mild form of autism, very similare to OCD) and they both love video games...
My cousin, who is pretty difficult to understand sometimes when she speaks, is really articulate when it comes to gaming, surpassing the knowledge of the rest of her family, yet she still needs help getting ready sometimes and she's older than me...
I think it's wonderful that it's so helpful for people with such acute behavioral problems to be subdued and educated by something that most "normal" people scoff at others for being into...
It's all just proof that gaming really does help you... even if it is just making your reflexes faster or using logic a bit more often than you would in daily life.
I'm not saying it makes geniuses out of us, but hell, you never know...

Really is a wonderful article. My dad's friend's son has autism and also seems to be "hard-wired for gaming". It seems that the complexities of games don't really phase him. He just continues playing through defeats. I actually really wish I had determination like that.

That was a cool article. I myself "suffer" from Aspergers (I have never liked that way of putting it) and gaming has been one of the ways I dealt with it. Through joining online communities that didn't suck and by playing games that made me think more I have got to the point where people apparently don't see it in me.

The other thing I found was that by getting games that matched with interests of mine (Cars, military stuff and music) I was able to sort myself out much faster and deal with things easier. I know if I ever have kids and they end up with it I will be using games a lot to teach them various things

A sibling of a friend has suffered quite severely from autism his whole life, but unfortunately, and although his parents aren't exactly anti-videogame (not particularly pro, either), whenever I've offered him a go, his lego is more appealling than Mario. Ah well, some just don't have a taste for it!

Many members of my family have Aspergers Syndrome and I don't agree with you when you said that it is a mild form of Autism. Yes, Aspergers cases can fit into social roles slightly better but they can also be much more dangerous than Autistics; as they can fly into rages quite easily.

But this is a good article

This was an extremely interesting read. As a member of a family touched by the autism spectrum (particularly AS), I found myself thinking back to past experiences, and making some connections I'd never before made. My brother and I have always been into gaming, and though we're both pretty anal about doing as well as possible he's always shown much more determination than I in reaching achievements.

Many members of my family have Aspergers Syndrome and I don't agree with you when you said that it is a mild form of Autism. Yes, Aspergers cases can fit into social roles slightly better but they can also be much more dangerous than Autistics; as they can fly into rages quite easily.

I agree completely. While AS is a part of the autism spectrum, I'd never consider it to be a "mild form" of autism. People with AS encounter unique experiences and challenges.

Very good article, it was very interesting. My brothers friend is autistic and he plays video games all the time, I sort of got a glimpse into what his world might be like with this article. Good job!

Unlike most of the posters here, I cannot say that I have an autistic cousin of whom this reminds me...but, like everybody else, I CAN say this article was a great read, and I regret missing it the first time it was published!

It's articles like these that shrug aside the tired stereotype of the antisocial gamer, smacking the uninformed upside the head and crying, "LOOK! There are people playing video games in order to immerse themselves in the social world - not escape from it!"

Very good article. My mom works with developmentally disabled children plus she has me and my little brother. My brother has so many learning disabilities its not funny. I have ADD and OCD. Both of us are good at video games. She has 2 or 3 autistic kids in the class she works in. They adore me when I come in to bring her stuff which is not often. As much as they like their patterns, I somehow randomly appear in them. I don't question it, not my place. Unfortunately due to it being a school they don't get many video games but they get a few. Kids like that are so much fun to work with and interact with.

What a great article! I would normally never be interested in reading a 3 page article on gaming but this was really interesting!! Thanks.

Wow that was amazing. Thankyou for that :)
Ive never really known anything about autism and now im just looking through wikipedia to see what it is.

I hope your gaming with Pierce goes well.

Very nice article. Never thought of gaming as a therapy for this sort of thing but it sounds really useful.

Question : What happens if you get an autistic person into a strategy game ? I`m thinking Starcraft or Warcraft 3 ? If their brains work and categories as you describe in the article they can be awesome at these games. WCG has pretty big cash prizes....

My brother is autistic (and diabetic, lucky him.) and I also find that playing video games with him is a good way to calm him down, and he also tends to connect with people more easily when playing a game with them :).

"In other words, he spends his whole life in the place the rest of us only live when we're gaming." That lucky kid. what's he got anyway?

All I have to say to that is....God bless you,lady.

It's great you found a mutually enjoyable way to connect with and teach your son.

I've always found autism fascinating. I think of it less as a disorder and more of a separate way of thinking (although I may be biased considering I'm about 90% sure I have high functioning autism).

Sounds like autistics might be better adapted for the 21st century than the rest of us

I can kind of sympathize with this kid, I have Aspergers Syndrome. It took me 5 years out of home school and in college / on my own. To figure out about socialization, I even had a breakdown in college, which is what prompted my therapy and diagnosis. Some of the things in this article really rang true for me. I still have an entire room of my parents house devoted to legos which are separated by size, color, and shape.

I understand almost all expressions but sometimes sarcasm or fake out (where someone says something with a sarcastic meaning and holds a serious expression and no heavy indicator in their voice I'll completely buy it.) will slip by.

I was really inspired by your methods of parenting, I hope in the future your son will be raised to be a fully functional member of society.


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