Pok├â┬⌐mon Go may be causing some injuries and nuisances, but the popular mobile game is also making a really positive difference in some people’s lives — specifically, children with autism and Asperger’s!
Stephanie Barnhill was ecstatic when her son Ian Thayer asked her to go outside to catch some Pok├â┬⌐mon, because the 12-year-old has Asperger’s syndrome — which usually hinders his social interactions and motivation to go outside.
While Barnhill typically has trouble getting Ian to leave his comfort zone, she says playing Pok├â┬⌐mon Go has given him an incentive to go outside and interact with other players!
She explained to CNN:
“He’s willingly starting to go out and going to Pokestops, get Pokeballs and catch creatures, whereas he didn’t have the interest to go outside before. He’s not a go-outside-and-play kind of kid. But this game has enabled him to want to reach out to people and strike up conversations about creatures that they’ve caught.”
No research has been done on the effects of the augmented reality game yet, but Dr. James McPartland, director of Yale’s Developmental Disabilities Clinic in the Child Study Center, says the game appeals to children with autism or Asperger’s because it “involves a finite set of interesting characters that is consistent, stable.”
While many experts belief the game provides a great “social hook” for children with autism, others warn it can pose possible pitfalls for children on the autism spectrum.
Dr. Fred Volkmar of Yale’s Child Study Center explained that if not moderated, gameplay can interfere with other developmental opportunities, noting:
“The problem with Pokemon is that kids can do it to a point where it interferes with learning about the world. If you can make it somewhat functional, it’s fine. It’s detrimental if it’s the only thing they’re interested in. If it helps the kid become more isolated, it’s not good.”
But the parents of children with autism who are now Pokemon trainers seem to disagree.
Lenore Koppleman, whose 6-year-old son Ralphie (pictured above) has autism and hyperlexia, says the game has vastly improved her son’s social skills and overall confidence. She said:
“[Other kids] want to play Pokemon Go, and so does he, so it gives them something in common to do. The kids are so fixated on catching Pokemon that they are concentrating on finding them more than they are concentrating on his behaviors like they usually do…He seems happier. He’s laughing more. He seems more confident.”
AH-Mazing! Clearly, this game is changing some lives for the better!
Just, you know, keep aware of your surroundings, players!
[Image via Facebook.]