Autism & Role-Playing Games
I have three boys on the autism spectrum. Some days they experience what I term as the "Hulk moment" and it can be quite challenging. One of my sons, now a teenager and on the higher end of the Autism Spectrum, has developed his writing skills to such a degree that he can describe things very well especially instruction material. I always try to encourage him in role-playing games because of the collaborative writing style associated with it and the social interaction which needs interactive group thoughts for success.
The best thing to bring about both his writing and social interaction is online play by post material such as is available in one of the Role-playing Game Sections of this Community.
A good example of this is having to think as another person or "In-Character" Which might be something that many under the spectrum face as a daily challenge. Not because being in-Character is of itself difficult, but the way that Character interacts with others is where the real 'battle' starts.
Quick Note: The Role-playing Games in this site are BOTH for those on the spectrum or other challenges AND neurotypicals (Those without those challenges). Everyone gets along because there are rigid rules here so people focus on the game and not someone's challenge.
For those that do not like the pressure of groups I have coded a special adventure which encompasses a world called "Ruler of Kings II", a Medieval Fantasy Role-playing Game that allows ANYONE (Neurotypicals too), including those on the Spectrum to go at their pace, make choices and experience an adventure online in a safe environment free from spam, trolls and nonsense. The asynchronous method means there is no pressure. Best of all they can submit how they feel the story should go, what should be added and so forth in a style called, "Collaborative Writing". Please understand… ROK II is for those who enjoy reading, writing and becoming the author of their character therefore it may not appeal to someone on the moderate or low functioning end of the Autism Spectrum.
Role playing helping those on the Autism Spectrum... Has there been any scientific research done? This led me to a search by an undergraduate into the same subject of Role-playing Games effects on Autism. He sent me this Email which I am sharing by his permission:
Interesting. Will a role in a play also help this or drama classes that led to a short play? I can see what you mean with the collaborative writing it forces you think about the logical actions that need to take place. You would then have to choose wisely the words you use to describe what is happening so that a person doesn't run through a door but walks through it.
Johannes: I am also diagnosed Asperger's and have found Role-playing Games to be phenomenal for my social development...plus, if you find a good group to play, there are several other benefits:
Expansion of your social circle and support group. I always had a hard time maintaining friendly relationships, but Role-playing Games provide a neutral playing field with a built-in shared interest to work from.
As these bonds strengthen (And I found a really good group of folks), I got a whole network that can I call upon when I need some support but can't get it from more official or familial channels...even when it's just someone to talk to or get advice from.
John: I'm a Speech Pathologist, and I love to use Role Playing Games with my students when I can. I've mainly been doing it for problem solving, expressive and pragmatic language skills, I hadn't really considered using it for writing, but that's a good idea! Thank you for posting this it's nice to see Role-playing Games getting some of the positive attention they deserve for the good they can do for people.
Christopher: Interesting stuff. I have a son with Fragile X syndrome, and some of the behaviors and indicators are similar. I know with him, besides the chance to model and play things out, like you could in a RP situation, is always good. Also, incidental learning is a strength socially and educationally - copying what he perceives happening around him and modeling behaviors. We are board and mini gaming family, but I have been really interested in getting back into role-playing again lately. I've even looked at starting with something like Mice and Mystics when the kids get a year or two older to work our way in.
I'm amazed by the number of views and likes for this Topic. It seems like the association between Role-playing Games and Autism is also observed by others, especially those on the spectrum. I'm trying to compile the most valid responses as other places tend to loose it all to whimsical Posts. Here is also the latest from the current researcher:
Mark: Don't have experience with [the play by post style], but Role-playing Games cured my OCD. Also helped a friend who suffered from depression.