Professor Developing Video Games For Kids With Autism

Video games often get a bad rap when it comes to how they affect children, but a USC professor says simple ones could be a positive for children with autism.

"We use a lot of technology to meet the kids needs," Matthew Woods with the Autism Academy of South Carolina said.

At the Autism Academy of South Carolina they take the traditional way of teaching and put a technological twist on it.

"In most cases I would say that it's not good to let your kids play video games all the time. I think most people would agree with that," Wood said. "We use video games as reinforcement."

The students at the Autism Academy play traditional video games, which they said helps them socialize.

But USC professor Dr. Roger Newman-Norlund could be adding a couple new games to the shelf.

"They have to be simple, yet fun," Newman-Norlund said.

He said children with autism process things differently when it comes to observation.

But these video games encourage team work and socialization, characteristics that are not strong in many children that are diagnosed.

"They're games that you can play the games, but you can't play them alone. If you play them alone, you don't get any rewards. It's not fun, but if you play them with somebody else they actually are fun and it encourages you to be more social," he said.

Newman-Norlund and his team have programmed three games and want to test on various families.

But this research isn't funded by grants, instead it's through Kickstarter.

"If we don't reach our goa,l which is $150,000 to fund a two -year project, then all the money gets refunded," Newman-Norlund said.

Many resources for children with autism embrace the digital age and this project is right on trend.

"Children with autism tend to like technology, they tend to like to play with video games, so I thought this would be a great way to deliver treatment to them or some kind of training to them," Newman-Norlund said.

To donate money, visit the project's Kickstarter.


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