Autism, Nintendo Wii

Autistic Children like to Wii

A 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 mechanism be too complex or unwieldy for an autistic child or would its movement based approach be more intuitive than a traditional games controller?

In response a variety of parents have commented on it:

Mike wrote:

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.

Susan’s experience:

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) … 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.

Mary said:

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.

MT wrote:

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. … wrote about it on my blog here.

Do read MT’s blog entry in which she takes her son bowling for real after he has mastered bowling on the Wii.

Because autism covers such a spectrum of problems the Wii will not suit all autistic children but it is clear that for some it opens new doors. This is very heartening for my WyyMi project which aims to help with coordination training in people with developmental issues using the Wii.

3 Comments

  1. Via

    Chris. have you seen the news about some NHS research which is using something similar to Nintendo Wii, for patients who have suffered with a stroke. I saw it on Teletext. They made reference to the Wii type equipement helping patients to function better. Sorry to be so vague about it, teletext is quite brief.
    I know you’ve covered this before and it does raise more questions about sensory integration, etc.

  2. Franceska Eisel

    My son (now 10yrs old), Jacob like many of the stories I have read here have had the friends he has for many years now. Jacob never could play the sports due to lack of coordination, attention & skills… His friend since they were 3, Leia, got a Wii system last Christmas from Santa, he played the bowling game with her. He did so well; it was incredible!!! We are ‘hoping’ that Santa will get it for him this year! I wonder how far he will be able to go with his own system?! hmmm

  3. Kent Finnell

    I have two granddaughters, 13 months apart (so called Irish twins). The oldest is very bright and very active. Her sister is 5 and is autistic. K is active physically but doesn’t speak. There is a very intelligent person hidden by the autistic static judging by the way she copes with problems. Her favorite toys and books all make music of some sort. She is wild about Shrek 2. I have been wondering for some time if a Wii with the Music game (multiple instruments, not Guitar Hero) might open up some more of the world to her.

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