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Harnessing Gaming for Autistic Individuals: Fostering Healthy Habits

Gaming has undeniably become a widespread pastime across all demographics. For individuals on the autism spectrum, gaming holds particular appeal, offering avenues for creativity, problem-solving, goal-setting, and other valuable skills. Moreover, many video games provide a less intimidating platform for socializing and forming connections, which can be especially beneficial for those with autism. 

However, it's crucial to acknowledge that autistic individuals may also face heightened risks associated with gaming. From online harassment to disrupted sleep patterns or even the potential for gaming addiction, these negative aspects can impact autistic individuals more intensely than their neurotypical counterparts.


Autistic person gaming

Positive Impacts of Gaming for Autistic Individuals 

Nevertheless, not all gaming experiences are detrimental. With informed guidance and moderation, autistic individuals can reap the benefits of gaming while avoiding unhealthy behaviours and circumstances. 

Contrary to common misconceptions, gaming can have various positive effects on the well-being of autistic individuals, it allows for friendships to be built using the internet, it requires no social effort, it can be relaxing after a day of School or work, when socializing is expected.


Enhanced Learning and Cognitive Skills:

Many video games require skills that are transferable to everyday life. Quick reflexes, critical thinking, and improved focus are just a few examples. These games offer an enjoyable way for users to hone these skills without even realizing it.


Social Interaction 

Gaming can serve as a comfortable platform for social interaction, particularly for those who find face-to-face interactions overwhelming. Games offer opportunities for collaboration and teamwork, fostering a sense of purpose and achievement. Additionally, shared interests within gaming communities can facilitate connections and friendships, providing a supportive environment for autistic individuals. 


Therapeutic Benefits:

Certain games have been integrated into therapeutic interventions for autistic individuals. For instance, Minecraft has been utilized in various therapies to enhance engagement and comfort levels.


Understanding Unhealthy Behaviours and Risks 

Autistic individuals may face challenges that predispose them to unhealthy gaming behaviours: 

  • Co-occurring Mental Health Conditions: Many autistic individuals experience co-occurring mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. Gaming may serve as a form of escapism from these challenges, potentially leading to excessive gameplay as a coping mechanism. 

  • Social and Communication Difficulties: Difficulties in socializing and communicating can contribute to feelings of isolation, which are not present in the world of gaming.


However, a fine balance needs to be monitored as gaming can't replace the need for social interaction with people from local communities, rather than hours of interacting with a voice over the internet. 

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