Join CafeMom Today! Autism Spectrum Disorder: Treatments: Nintendo Wii Therapy for Autism?

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Sunday, November 2, 2008

Nintendo Wii Therapy for Autism?

Real workout, virtual world
Autistic students take to Nintendo sports at Patterson Mill Middle/H.S.

By Cassandra A. Fortin Special to The Sun

Jean Tyrrell wanted to find activities that would allow students in the autism program at Patterson Mill Middle/High School to be more physically active during the school day.

After researching some ideas, Tyrrell said she purchased a Nintendo Wii video game console with a grant that she received.

"The kids really like Wii," said Tyrrell, a physical-education teacher. "And I think it's great. It gives the children with autism an age-appropriate leisure activity to do."

Since the game was purchased, the children have all learned to play it, said Carolyn Trovinger, who teaches the middle school autism program.

On a recent afternoon, Trovinger's students played baseball on the Wii, which features digital sensors and allows people to virtually play sports and games.

Journey Phanouvong, 12, of Belcamp made a base hit, and then clapped and cheered.

Daniel Quinn, 11, of Edgewood hit the ball and didn't want to stop playing when his turn was over.

"Some of the students would love to play Wii all day long," Tyrrell said. "We can't let them do that. So we put Wii on their daily schedule right after lunch time. That way, they know exactly when they can play."

The game is simple, so all the students can play, said Robin Yates, who teaches the high school program for autism. Each student has a different level of autism - a developmental disorder that is characterized by impaired social interaction and communication - and a different level of play. And the game allows the autistic students to play at their own pace, she said.

Despite the limited time the students have to play the game - one period a day - there are benefits for autistic children, said Trovinger.

[FULL STORY]


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