Parenting

This Video Game Improves Balance in Kids with Autism

This Video Game Improves Balance in Kids with Autism

This Video Game Improves Balance in Kids with Autism

While many view video games as a way that children (or some adults) waste their time, various studies have actually showed that there may be a benefit to playing them, especially in those with autism. One game in particular is working to improve the balance in youth who have autism.

Ninjas with autism spectrum disorder

Various yoga poses have been proven to improve balance; however, for those with autism spectrum disorder, it can sometimes be too hard to hold the focus associated with the practice.

So, to assist, some video games incorporate certain moves, and reward players who can hold them for extended periods of time. This makes it into a fun game, fighting against distraction and frustration.

One video game specifically focuses on the ninja pose, and has shown to assist children and youth who have autism spectrum disorder with their balance, according to researchers at the University of Wisconsin Madison.

For more information, the study that analyzed the effects of this game was published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

A new kind of training

For those who have autism spectrum disorder, balance can be a challenge. Brittany Travers is the lead author of the study, as well as an assistant professor of kinesiology, and she referenced that having trouble with balance and postural stability are usually considered symptoms of more severe autism spectrum disorder, but regardless of the level of severity, the troubles can be debilitating in daily life.

However, she is hopeful that the new work on video games could make a massive difference. She explains, "we think this video game-based training could be a unique way to help individuals with ASD who have challenges with their balance address these issues."

The study

In the study conducted by Travers and her colleagues, which is the largest yet to analyze how balance training works on those with autism spectrum disorder, 29 participants were analyzed while participating in a training program that lasted six weeks. Each participant had to be between the ages of seven and seventeen, and would be engaged in playing the video game that the researchers themselves had developed.

As the six weeks progressed, it became increasingly clear that the game was having a significant effect. They were able to better perform in the game, showing that their balance and posture had improved, but it didn't stop there. They also started to demonstrate these same improvements outside of the game, showing that the effects were lasting and could be applied outside the context of the "game world."

Travers mentioned that this was one of the most important aspects of the study, because if the benefits were only attainable during the game, they wouldn't be as powerful. She explained how impressed she was, "our participants are incredibly clever when it comes to finding ways to beat video games! We wanted to make sure that the improvements we were seeing were truly balance-related and not limited to the video game."

Read on to learn more about how this video game helped kids with autism.