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17th Jul 2016

Mother of autistic son shares moving account of how Pokemon Go has helped him

This is just wonderful

Tom Victor

You’d need a heart of stone not to be moved by this.

We’ve all seen how Pokemon Go has been great for people’s mental health, their physical fitness, or even their reluctance to go outside.

But one thing we perhaps hadn’t anticipated is the way in which the augmented reality game can help children and young people on the autistic spectrum.

A New York mother has shared a moving account of introducing her autistic son to the game, on the advice of a friend who also has a child with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

It turns out the promise of catching Pikachus, Vaporeons and even those ten-a-penny Rattatas can be enough to disrupt rigid routines and get young people out into environments they might otherwise be keen to stay away from.

When you read this account – of Ralph shrieking excitedly and interacting with other children on the lookout for Pokemon – you can see how the augmented reality game can be a force for good.

Here is the account in full, if you’re unable to read the post above:

Thanks to the suggestion of my fellow ASD-mama friend and fellow body painter [name removed] I finally introduced Ralphie to Pokemon Go tonight. She was right. This thing is AMAZING. After he caught his first one at the bakery, he was shrieking with excitement. He ran outside to catch more. A little boy saw him and recognized what he was doing. They immediately had something in common. He asked Ralphie how many he had caught. Ralph didn’t really answer him, other than to shriek “POKEMON!!!!” and jump up and down with excitement while flapping his arms. The little boy showed him how many HE had caught (over 100!) and Ralph said “WOWWWW!” and they high-fived. I almost cried. Then he saw his second Pokemon, sitting on [name removed]’s front step. He caught that one and was so excited he shrieked again and began to jump up and down. Then she came out and he chatted to her about it, too! Then she pointed out to him that there was a lot of Pokemon activity at the playground. He begged to go. He NEVER wants to go to the playground at night, because it’s out of his usual routine. He is normally SO RIGID about his routine. But tonight he was happy to change things up, and do it! We were in shock! And when we got there, other kids ran up to him to hunt for Pokemon together. He was interacting with other kids. Holy crap!!!! I didn’t know if I should laugh, or cry. Then he wanted to go find more, and we walked down 30th ave. Adults were also hunting Pokemon, and these total strangers were giving him advice like “there’s one right, round the corner, buddy! Go get it!” and he would run off laughing to get it. He would even look up at them and say “THANK YOU!” and run off! WOW!!!!!

MY AUTISTIC CHILD IS SOCIALIZING. Talking to people. Smiling at people. Verbalizing. Participating in pragmatic speech. With total strangers. Looking up at them. Sometimes even in the eye. Laughing with them. Sharing something in common. This is AMAZING.

Thank you [name removed] for suggesting this. You were right. And thank you Nintendo!!! ASD mama’s DREAM!!!!!! I love you! #PokemonGO #gottacatchemall Snapchat