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Games for Social Development in People with Autism

As a person with autism, I have always struggled in social situations to understand others needs and desires.

One thing that I really enjoy doing has offered me a lot of help in this area the game Sims 2 Pets for the PC or the PS3. When I am playing this game, I watch the health meters of the characters that I have created. I learn what activities help them to be satisfied socially, in their environment, or in areas of fun. I knew, for instance, that when their fun meter went down, they would be stressed out. In those moments it would be difficult for me to get them to do what I wanted them to do (such as homework.)

How this transfers to real life for me is that when I am visiting people, if I have been playing this game a lot, I can actually see their health meters in my mind.

When I was visiting my brothers children across the country, for instance, there was one morning that they were gathered around me. They were each playing their guitars for me, while they were eating their breakfast, and talking to each other. I could at that time see their fun, social, and hunger meters going up as they were doing these activities before school.

While I did want to visit with my nephews and niece while I was there, all of this focus on me was a bit overwhelming. Because I could see their “health meters” in my mind, however, I felt this was important for their success at school. I could see how this was good for them, and not just how it was a bit overwhelming for me. I allowed it to continue, and enjoyed the fact that I was able to see things from their perspective as a result of playing a game that I very much enjoyed.

Although this game is a solitary activity for me, I believe that such things can be used as tools for people with autism to help them to develop their social skills and perspective.

 

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She Was

She was the child who stood against the wall on the playground, quietly watching, but never participating.  So much was seen, but so little experienced.  She did not understand their games.

She was the child who choked when called on in class.  The words would not come out.  All of the other children laughed.

She was attacked by their noises, their movements, the darkness, and the light.  She could not filter out what they seemed not to notice.  She battled within, and they never knew.

She was the child the teachers could not reach.  She did not act out, but she also was not heard.  She was the child they overlooked.

She was the one who, when invited to birthday parties, walked quietly with the adults.  She felt out of place.  She was the one they stopped inviting.

She was the child being abused at home.  Being told she was no good.  Being told she owed for her very existence.  Being molested again and again from the one who should have protected her.  She was the child learning not to trust.  She was the child who did not speak, and suffered in silence.

She was the fearful, the lost, the abandoned, crying each night in her room because she did not belong.  She was the one begging to be taken from the world.  To be taken home.

She was the child who never stood, dressed, or acted quite right.  She was the one they made fun of because her facial expressions were strange.  She was the one they feared because she did not speak.

She was the one lost in her own world, lost in a fantasy that they could not penetrate.  She felt safe there.

She was the one who spoke to the animals, whose best friend was a dog, but who could not connect to other people.

She was the little sister who followed her brother everywhere, and did what he did because he seemed to know what he was doing.

She was the one thought shy or rude because she could not speak when they spoke to her.

She was the child in trouble for staring.  Maybe they interested her.  Maybe she didn’t see them at all.  She was the one who didn’t know where her eyes should look.

She was the one thought to be normal because she didn’t cause much trouble.  The one forgotten when her younger brother had so many health, behavioural, and intellectual difficulties.  She got by.

She was the one they thought was okay – but they were wrong.

 

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