Games for Autism: Draw Something, Portal 2 and New Super Mario Bros. Wii

Welcome to Games for Autism, LWK’s recurring digest featuring the best games for kids dealing with the challenges of autism spectrum disorders.

Here, we highlight recent additions to our games section deemed particularly helpful for children with ASD — games that excel at exercising Flexibility, Self-Awareness and Self-Control.

Draw Something:

Draw Something

Kids with ASD commonly have trouble with fine motor skills, so a game like Draw Something — which revolves around drawing — can be quite beneficial.

  • Fine motor skills are practiced through the process of creating simple sketches via touch screen.
  • Players can erase their work and further refine their drawing until they feel they have perfected it, allowing kids to practice their drawing skills as much as they’d like.
  • Much like a digital version of the classic game Pictionary, Draw Something involves creating sketches based off of words and phrases, with the goal being to get other players to guess what you draw.
  • ASD kids sometimes struggle with communication, not successfully conveying their thoughts or understanding the thoughts and meanings of others. Draw Something encourages players to try and figure out what another person is thinking, as well as imagine how what they are communicating through their sketch will be understood and received by others.

Portal 2:

Portal 2

Many ASD kids tend to crave routine a little too much, struggling to deal with situations that lack clear structure and directions. Therefore, it is good for them to be able to act more flexibly. Portal 2 is a great game for kids with ASD, as it promotes creative thinking and gives players little direction as to what needs to be done in order to proceed in the game.

  • Armed with a portal-shooting gun, players create entrance and exit portals in order to manipulate the landscape and reach the exit of the room. Portals can be used to move the character or objects across gaps, extend light-bridges, redirect lasers, and more.
  • Portals often must be used in strange or obtuse manner. ASD kids tend to insist on engaging in activities in a very particular way, but Portal 2 challenges them to think creatively and try new things.
  • ASD kids sometimes crave rules and routines, but Portal 2 gives little direction as to what needs to be done in order to reach the exit of each level. Sometimes the best way to solve a puzzle is to experiment wildly with the portal gun.
  • Portal 2 also features an excellent multiplayer mode, allowing two players to team up locally or online to solve environmental puzzles. This supports cooperative peer relationships facilitating a shared interest in a common goal.

New Super Mario Bros. Wii

New Super Mario Bros Wii

ASD kids sometimes have a hard time working with others or partaking in spontaneous and shared enjoyment. New Super Mario Bros. Wii strongly emphasizes cooperative play, promoting a shared attention and common interest in achieving a goal.

  • Players need to understand other how their in-game actions effect other players. If one player rushes through alone, other players fall behind and can lose life. If the last remaining players is defeated, the whole team has to start over.
  • The better players work together, the more likely they are to succeed in the game. This promotes cooperation, allowing ASD kids — who can struggle with social thinking — to experience a team mentality.
  • Players need to be aware of their own skill level while playing, as well as the skill level of others. Players more skilled than others should offer help, while less skilled players should feel comfortable requesting tips and guidance.
  • Players can be assisted either by helping them in the game (like taking out an enemy for them) or outside the game (giving tips or explaining the game mechanics to a new player).

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