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.
Are we too quick to medicate children?, a good round-up of the issue from the Las Angeles Times. Whilst The Guardian has a piece on the rise of students using brain boosting drugs such as Ritalin
The Spoof! has a short piece on PHADD (Pseudo Hyperactivity Attention Deficit Disorder)
Questionable Study Claims ADHD is Under-Diagnosed
Good Vibrations, a new, drug-free treatment for ADHD?
Understanding Chelation therapy, a brief round-up of this dubious autism therapy.
National Institutes of Health will intensify its efforts to find the causes of autism.
No explanation for ‘scary’ rise in autism in New Zealand
A Dore Program presentation at the Hallowell Center in Sudbury, MA.
Experts Demand End to Child Drugging in the US.
Shire reveals the effect size for it ADHD medication, Vyvanse.
Study on Concerta shows significant effect on ADHD sufferers.
In the Autism Fiction section of the Myomancy Store I’ve added Volumes 1 & 2 of With The Light. A heart-breaking and heart-warming tale of a mother and her autistic son. Its manga, Japanese comics, rather in a prose book but don’t let that put you off. In Japan, manga covers just a wide range of subjects as prose fiction does in the west. Its beautifully drawn and picks up the real emotion of the situation. Forbidden Planet have an in-depth review of volume 1.
From Mind Hacks
So a group of researchers, led by psychologist Dr. Atsushi Senju, wondered whether children with autism might be less susceptible to yawn contagion.
They came up with the ‘I wish I’d thought of that’ idea of showing videos of people yawning to groups of typically developing children, and children with a diagnosis of autism.
The study [pdf] showed that children with autism were far less likely to yawn in response to watching others do the same.
Autistic children immune to contagious yawns
The most interesting study covered in Dyslexia and the Cerebellum: The Missing Evidence has an interesting connection to other studies covered on Myomancy.
Premature babies often have learning difficulties in later life. Quite often, the more premature the baby, the worse these are. This has been linked to the babies having an underdeveloped cerebellum. In the post Cerebellum More Than Just a Motor we reported that a baby who had a poorly developed right cerebellum would also have a poorly developed left cerebrum (i.e. the thinking, frontal part of the brain). The study on speech and the cerebellum found that right cerebellum was tightly linked to the left, frontal lobes. It is not hard to imagine that if one half of this speech system is damaged, then the other half fails to develop properly because of a lack of stimulation. All this points to a strong connection between the development of the cerebellum and language skills.
The cerebellum / speech paper came from the journal Cerebellum and it is certainly one I will be keeping an eye on. It has many fascinating studies that point to the role of the cerebellum in dyslexia, ADHD and autism. Here are couple choice morsels.
The cerebellum in cognitive processes: Supporting studies in children
In conclusion, the cerebellum seems to play an important role in many higher cognitive functions especially in learning.
And one for Kevin at Tick Tock Talk, the IQ and rhythm blog:
Timing of rhythmic movements in patients with cerebellar degeneration
…these results provide further evidence that the integrity of the cerebellum is especially important for event timing…
The excellent Autism Checklist above (click for a bigger version) comes from designer Elaine Chen who has also done three great paintings inspired by autism.
A good article on how autism effects girls in the New York Times. (via Mind Hacks).
From Myomancy’s blogroll .
The BBC is reporting that a simple name test for infants could predict autism. In a study researches found that 100% of a control group of children responded to their name. In a larger group of ‘at risk’ children, only 86% responded. The families were contacted again at 24 months and three quarters of the children who had failed the test at 12 months had developmental problems, mostly with autism.
Such simple and effective tests for autism are vital. Early and intensive treatment of autism makes a big impact on the long-term prospects. For more information see: Signs of Autism in Toddlers and Infants.
The full study on the name test appeared in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine: A Prospective Study of Response to Name in Infants at Risk for Autism.
Eide Neurolearning Blog has a some interesting data on the prevalence of autism in the USA.
See also: Confusion Over Autism Epidemic