Myomancy ADHD, Dyslexia and Autism

Nintendo Wii and Autism

Looking at Myomancy’s logs I can see that quite a few people are coming here searching for information on the Nintendo Wii and autism. So far Myomancy has only incidentally connected the two subjects. However it seems that a lot parents are ahead of me and wish to know whether the Wii is suitable for autistic children.

The difficultly in answering this question is that autism covers a very wide range of problems. From high function autistics to adults who still haven’t become fully toilet trained. With such a wide range of abilities, one answer cannot fit all cases. However at least one therapist is using a Wii in the therapy for an autistic boy.

Using the Wii is straightforward and may be more natural to a child than a traditional console because a lot of games are played by moving the whole arm rather than pressing small buttons. Selecting the right game is key as there is a wide range in their complexity. Games aimed at younger children are more likely to suit an autistic child as they will expect a lower level of hand/eye coordination. I’ve added a section to the Myomancy Store specifically for Wii games and Autism featuring games aimed at younger children.

I haven’t tried any of the games in the store and I don’t have a great deal of personal experience one-on-one with autistic children so it is very hard for me to give good advice. So I ask everyone who finds this page to comment below on your experience with the Wii and autism. Has your autistic child had the chance to play with a Wii? What game was it and how did they cope with it? If you’ve not yet tried a Wii, what questions would you like answering? With luck we can build up a guide to parents of autistic children and the Nintendo Wii.

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Comments on: Nintendo Wii and Autism

  1. I convinced my wife to get the Wii for us this last Christmas. My son is 8 years old and on the high functioning side of the spectrum.

    He loves the sports games. He plays Wii Sports and Mario & Sonic At The Olympics a lot. He is very inexperienced with sports due to typical autism type issues and the Wii has acted as a trainer.

    Because the Wii mimics real life movements now that he is successful at playing these games he does have a desire to transition his new skills to real life.

    It was really cool seeing him try baseball the first time where you have to hold the Wii remote like the handle of a bat. Instructing him to keep his elbows up and the bat back just like real baseball. The character on the screen holding the bat just as he is the controller matching the angles.

    Now he has a reference point in real life. Now he has a clue and a physical imprint of at least being able to participate in a sport when ready.

    He has started asking me to take him bowling and has started playing with his Putt Putt set since the Wii came into our life.

  2. My son is 5.5 years old with a medical and educational diagnosis of autism. At his last school meeting I was told he is “super high-functioning”. His current behavior therapist recommended a website (www.starfall.com) and he picked up the use of the touchpad on my laptop immediately. Since our Wii is connected to the internet (and I wanted my laptop back!) I decided to bring starfall up on the Wii and see if he could figure out the remote. I was amazed! He had never before taken an interest in Wii Sports or anything else on the Wii that the rest of the family plays. After he figured out how to navigate with the remote, he is now able to play the shooting game on Wii Play, and he loves the photo channel and he uses the doodle and mood features to change the photos we have copied over to the Wii. I am extremely amazed at his success at this hand-eye coordination and the reason I found this website is because I am searching for more games suitable for an autistic child. Over the last couple of days, he has taken an interest in his older sister’s Nintendo DS and the camera on my cell phone. I hope word gets out to the autistic community about this!

  3. I have two children with autism ages 7 and 8 and neither is high functioning (Aspergers). The Wii has been a wonderful asset. It has improved my son’s hand-eye coordination and his large motor skills. He would never want to play a family game with us and preferred to play alone. Now he invites us to play with him. The Wii is very visual which is perfect for kids with autism. We have Wii Sports, Wii Play, Wii Carnival and Cookin Mama. Now we just added Wii Fit and they love it, plus they are getting exercise. My kids with autism had never been able to play other video games. We love it and I highly recommend it!

  4. We love our Wii, and my 7 year old with autism has done so well with it. We first tried it at friends homes where he loved it but didn’t share it well. Once we got it at home a whole new world opened up. He loves to make ‘miis’ and he loves to set up games and play as a whole family. It has helped him with turn taking, learning to be a good sport, and also even helped him with some sensory issues.

    I wrote about it on my blog here:

    http://www.bonbongazette.com/2008/08/im-believer-in-wii-therapy.html

  5. We’ve had our Wii for about a week and our 6.5 year old boy loves it. He’s a high-functioning auti. Here’s a quick review of some of the games we have.

    Alvin and the chipmunks: =(
    Rated E for everyone
    Nintendo recommends ages 6+

    PROS: Good songs

    CONS:Cheesy graphics, Extremely difficult controls to understand & master, too much going on on-screen and there really isn’t “wii interactivity” as there is with some of the other games, this is more of a button-pushing only game.

    Summary-I would not recommend this game to anyone

    Dance Dance Revolution: Hottest Party 2: =|
    Rated E for 10+ due to mild lyrics & Suggestive Themes

    PROS: Workout mode=you can set a time limit to the play and even if you miss every note, you continue through to the end of the song/s until your time is up. My son likes to follow along with the dancers onscreen and doesn’t pay much attention to where and when he’s ‘supposed’ to step.

    CONS: This game requires a “dance pad” (We use one from the nintendo game cube as they are compatible with the wii.) The game requires a lot of coordination as you must step on the dance pad in the correct spot corresponding to indicators on the TV. My son does understand the idea, but the game’s indicators are much to fast (and too many at a time) for him. I believe there is a way to slow the steps down, but I haven’t found it yet. There is only one song my son enjoys in this game “I can’t help falling in love”. Most of the songs are for pre-teens to teenagers or older and are (as the rating reflects) not really appropriate for younger children but not grotesquely so. Some of the dancers wear skimpy outfits, but again not too bad.

    Summary- I set the timer for 15 to 30 minutes in workout mode and my son just dances along with his mii. He doesn’t seem aware of or effected by the mildly negative comments directed at his “missed” steps (although I wish I could find a way to turn that off) and he just dances away. I would highly suggest renting this game to try it out first before purchase to make sure the content and in-game remarks are OKAY by you! But it is a fun way for him to get some exercise.

    American Idol: Encore 2: =)
    Rated E for 10+ due to lyrics

    PROS: Sing your heart out with or without the judges commenting on it. “Practice mode” is available (no booing of stage) as well as “Karaoke” mode which is a ‘typical’ karaoke style setup, no score, no judging, just the words changing color to show you where you’re at.

    CONS: You need a microphone (The game I purchased came with one.) There are not any ‘kid’ songs in the choices, (my son likes to sing Apologize.) The judges can be quite harsh in thier comments.

    Summary- Either Karaoke mode, or “quick play” is usually what I choose to let my son sing to avoid the commentary from the judges (although he’s gotten quite good on the easy setting.) And he LOVES to sing into microphones so this is a great choice for us. There are other singing games out there that may be more appropriate (and have a better selection of kid’s songs) but this is defintley a ‘fun game’ for us to play and he is learning to control the pitch of his voice by watching which way the arrow goes in practice mode.

    Wii Fit: =) =) =)
    E for Everyone

    Pros: We only had our son try this for the first time yesterday and are very impressed. The ‘trainers’ show you the moves and you just follow along with them during the exercises. The dance step (in areobics) and the soccer-head-butt game are his two favorites. However most of the yoga and some of the strength training exercises are easy enough to follow along as well and the game keeps track of how much time he spends on each exercise so it’s easy for us to make sure he gets in enough exercise each day! Even if you don’t make it on the ‘high score’ list, you do get to see YOUR own personal best time on the board! (So everyone ‘wins’)

    Cons: Despite the game “knowing” his age, the games & exercises aren’t any different than those available to us. He hasn’t quite grasped how to lean his body on the wii-board yet but as he’s only had it for 1 day, I feel that he’ll figure it out with our help in no-time. Some of the exercises (and dance steps) seem too complicated for his age, but there are plenty to choose from.

    Summary- I wish we would have started him on this sooner. He does so well following along with the yoga & strength trainer and as long as I’m there to help ‘spot’ him so that he keeps his legs straight & help him with some of the more confusing poses he does amazing and has gotten some pretty high scores. I think some of these exercises will help so much with strengthening his posture & muscle tone. He can do the dance step on his own already with minimal confusion (and has gotten better each time he played it) (and they don’t boo at you if you mess up, it just pauses so you can have a moment to collect yourself.) I really feel this is the best ‘game’ for the whole family! Our son even ‘participates’ when it’s our turn by laughing or saying ‘oh no’ or ‘oops’ if we mess up.

    We do have several other games that we haven’t had him try yet (one game at a time until he ‘gets it’ and can choose which he prefers as we slowly add more) so hopefully I’ll have more reviews soon to add!

  6. i just want to say that the wii is the best thing i got for my autism son and he is 9 years old he loves playing all kinds of games on it the one he likes the most is batmen legos he bet the game a week after i got the game there is games for the wii that i dont know how to play and he will show me how to do it if anyone has a child with autism and dont have the wii i would go get one because it helps them learn alot of things

  7. My 10 year old Autistic son loves the Wii bowling game in particular and picked-up on it pretty easily. He recently bowled a score of 211. And we are using this opportunity to reinforce this activity by incorporating real life bowling which he also loves as a routine family activity. It is really nice to see him have an outlet/hobby that he enjoys. It’s also a great way mainstream him with other children at play which can be sometimes difficult. Most importantly it is a wonderful way for him to feel a sense of accomplishment and boost his ego, not to mention the great benefit of building eye-hand coordination.

  8. [...] from games and apply them to teaching skills. There are hints for the future of learning like the Wii and Autism and the development of new technology such as mind reading game [...]

  9. [...] while ago I wrote a piece called Nintendo Wii and Autism that asked how well an autistic child would cope with a Nintendo Wii. Would its unique controlling [...]

  10. my son is 7 high functioning) and loves the wii

    i think it might drive others a little nuts how much he loves it

    he loves to make miis

    the wii balance board is his favorite

    i wish they would make wii fit for kids though i think it would be more realistic he gets frustrated with some of the strength, balance games because he has 7 yo autitic muscles

  11. I have a 5 and a half year old brother with autism but witha mental age of three. I was thinking of getting him a nentendo wii for Christmas but i was unsure of what games to get. I hav heard that nentendo wiis are a great success with autistic children and i was wondering if anyone has come across a game that might be good for children of his age group.

    Thank you!!

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