Have you ever found yourself trying to stop your autistic teen from spending prolonged hours from playing video games?
A recent study has found playing a video game could actually benefit autistic teens and help them improving balance. The study was led by a group of researchers at the Wisconsin-Madison University.
The researchers highlight balance related challenges are seen to be more common among autistic people while comparing with the general population. Difficulties and gaining proper postural stabilities are seen to be more commonly related to ASD disorders with symptoms of intense severity resulting in impairing the daily living activities of an individual in question.
Brittany Travers, lead author and study coordinator says, “Back here, we are positive about video game training could provide a unique and a helpful way to assist individuals on the spectrum whilst helping them have their balance issues addressed.”
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The study is in its pilot stage and is seen to be the largest ever that takes a wholesome approach to understand the underlying effects related to balance training on autistic individuals. 29 participants took part in the program and were aged between 7 and 17 years and were diagnosed on the spectrum.
Further, the participants completed a 6-week duration program that involved playing video games that were developed by the study group.
Interestingly, by the time the program concluded, participants were observed to showcase necessary improvements and being able to maintain correct posture and balance, outside their game environment.
Travers explains balance improvements that are specifically outside the game based atmosphere are of high importance. She continues, “Interestingly, our batches of enrolled participants are very clever when it comes to hunting unique ways to surpass video game levels.”
Out of 11 participants who completed a questionnaire post their 6-week gaming activity, 10 of them replied positively on their video gaming experience.
Travers comments, “The whole and sole aim of our interventional programs is to make it a fun based activity.” She further explains, “Nevertheless, we are equally delighted to know each and every participant enjoys these game-based activities to the core.”
Travers explains she has developed the game successfully with timely and helpful assistance from her colleague and friend Andrea Mason.
Andrea is a professor of kinesiology at the UW-Madison. The video game uses a Nintendo Wii balance board and a Kinect camera designed by Microsoft which is integrated using Adobe Air software.
Travers says, “We strictly follow and believe reward system is a must to help participants learn new things at a faster pace. When participants see themselves enacting different postures and poses, they are rewarded for these simple tasks, and they progress at an amazing speed.”
Further, it was seen participants who were accustomed to ritualistic practices such as following a set bedtime or a mealtime were seen not to benefit as much as those who weren’t accustomed to any ritual based practices.
Nevertheless, there are a lot of variables in the ASD profile one needs to consider and there cannot be one universal solution that fits all, explains Travers.