National Video Game Day: 6 Video Games My Son with Autism Loves to PlayLisa Quinones-Fontanez
September 12th is National Video Game Day and we’re a household that loves our games. My husband, Joseph, is an avid video game player. (I have seen the man stay up until the wee hours of the morning playing.) And when our son, Norrin, was first born, Joseph couldn’t wait until Norrin was old enough to hold a video game controller in his hands.
I know there’s a lot of back and forth among parents and professionals regarding screen time and video game play. And a few months ago an article came out about how video games can be problematic for boys with autism. My 7-year-old son Norrin has autism and video games have not been a problem, in fact, video games have been a blessing.
When Norrin was first diagnosed with autism, I think Joseph worried if he would be able to form a bond with his son. Video games have allowed them to form a bond, to have a common interest and to play together like any other father and son.
Playing video games have improved Norrin’s vocabulary, fine motor skills, concentration and social interactions. It’s taught him about cause and effect and turn taking. Video games have expanded Norrin’s sense of imaginative play. It also allows Norrin to engage in an age-appropriate activity.
One of the misconceptions about video games is that it’s a sedentary activity. But modern technology has changed all that. The games that we play are mostly on the Wii and XBox 360 Kinect consoles and require full body movement. (The Wii requires a hand held controller, the Kinect doesn’t.)
Here are six of the video games that we enjoy playing as a family. Okay, okay – Joseph and Norrin usually play while I watch and cheer.
September 12 is National Video Game Day 1 of 7
Click through to see what games my guys love playing together!
Wii Sports Resort 2 of 7
We bought the Wii because my husband read that it was good for kids with autism. And I've seen the Wii used during occupation therapy at a few special needs schools.
Wii Sports Resort is 12 fun games in 1! It's something we can all play. What I love about it is that Norrin has to really use his whole body to play. Norrin enjoys the bowling and the sword play. He still needs help with some games, I often have to use hand over hand to assist. But each time we play, Norrin gets better and better.
Available at WiiSportsResort.com, $39.99
Toy Story Mania 3 of 7
Two summers ago we went to Disney World and this game reminds us of the Toy Story ride. Whenever we play, it makes me feel like we're on vacation. (I have a good imagination and I'm dreaming of another Disney vacation.) This game really forces Norrin to concentrate and to focus. It also features Woody and Buzz - two of his favorite Disney Pixar characters. And Joseph loves it because it reminds him of old school video game arcade play.
Available on Amazon, $16.99
Mario Kart 4 of 7
Joseph and I grew up playing Mario Brothers video games, so it's nice that we can play with Norrin. Norrin loves playing Mario Kart - he drives better than I do! Norrin's favorite character is Yoshi, he insists that Joseph play as Mario and when I play, I'm Princess Peach (obviously).
Available at Best Buy, $39.99
Kinect Rush: A Disney Pixar Adventure 5 of 7
This game is like gold. Toy Story, Cars, Up, The Incredibles and Ratatouille. This game really allows Norrin to interact with all of his favorite Disney Pixar characters. This game requires Norrin use his entire body to play. Norrin needs some assistance and prompting with some things, but he enjoys having control of the characters.
Available at Target, $29.99
Sesame Street 6 of 7
The thing that Norrin loves about this game is that he can be in it! It's really to cool to see Norrin as a part of the game and explore Elmo's world. It also teaches basic preschooler skills, so it's great for really young kids. Norrin may be a little "too old" to play this game (he's seven), but it's a game he enjoys - especially tossing the coconuts into the box. It really requires Norrin to focus, stand still, aim, and throw.
Available at Target, $19.99
Disney Infinity 7 of 7
Disney Infinity is the latest video game in our collection and the one we are all the most excited about. Earlier this summer we had the opportunity to attend our first blogger event for Disney Infinity. And they couldn't wait to get home and play.
What Norrin loves is that he can create his own world with his favorite Disney Characters. What I love about Disney Infinity is that Norrin can just play freely - there's no win or lose or challenges to overcome. Playing Disney Infinity really teaches Norrin how to handle the control pad. It could be a stepping stone to other more complex games. And what Joseph loves is that it's a game he can play with and without us - seriously, the man's been up late almost every night playing.
Available at Amazon, $74.99 for Starter Pack (additional figures and power discs sold separately.)
Do you encourage your kids to play video games? If so, why or why not?
Catch up with Lisa’s latest Babble posts:
- 7 Tips to Ease Transitions for Kids with Autism
- A Summer of Firsts Captured on Instagram
- Oh! The Things I Would Do If I Had My Kid’s Energy
Read more of Lisa’s writing at AutismWonderland.