Title: Autism & Role-Playing Games
Comments: I'm 41 and haven't been professionally diagnosed, but should've been with Asbergers.
The one thing that's a major boon for Role-playing Game and hobby gaming community (Boardgames/etc) in general is there is an un-written rule:
.. If the event is public, act friendly to everyone even someone you don't like.
I'm friendly to everyone, because that's who I am. But, I didn't realize for years that this was something within the gamer culture that was always on the surface. I always felt welcomed, because that's the social norm.
Sure, there are times they go to their social circles that I wasn't a part of, but there was enough group activities at Role-playing Game events and LARPs that I always felt like part of something bigger than myself.
I was able to focus on my own social flaws and explore them in a fake environment to understand the triggers for wrong behavior occurred. It still took NLP classes (After learning of my diagnosis) to know the "right thing to do", but at the time knowing what not to do was so much better than doing the wrong thing.
Source: Personal Experience
Tim: I've just been diagnosed with Asperger's. (I'm 39.) I've always been quiet and had difficulty making friends. Playing Role-Playing Games ('live', not online) helps me to interact with people on a social level that I otherwise find difficult.
Laurence: Good article. I would want to point out however how important it is to let other players know if they are to play with someone who has autism - and the nature of behaviours that might be exhibited. A couple of years ago I played a game at a convention where a 'difficult player' essentially wrecked it. It was only afterwards, when talking it through with an upset Dungeon Master that the behaviour was indicative of autism. I only know a very little bit about it, but in that situation I was 'the one eyed man in the kingdom of the blind.' I've played games since with people who have very mild autism, and they've been great, but it really helps to know in advance and have some advice about how to deal with upsets.
Good input. That is why in the thread I mentioned that not all those under the spectrum can handle a live session and the play by post method allows them to still participate without having to conform to a live social group. A proper explanation of this method and application: TextRPG.com.
Pierre: There's something to that. It encourages participation if it's "Just a game," The kids are willing to try different things, take risks. There are no (Real) stakes involved, the pressure's off.
Title: Drama won't help
Comments: Roles in plays will not help at all. I am on the autism spectrum. Roleplaying games have entirely different effects than acting in a play. I've done both. Acting in a play is fun, but it's just going through the motions--just faking things. Big deal. I learn nothing except how to fool people intentionally. Roleplaying, on the other hand, requires real decisions.
Source: Personal experience
Peter: Thanks for writing it. My oldest is on the spectrum and has a really hard time verbalizing and communicating though he is hyperlexi and showing a photographic memory of something interests him. I haven't been able to perk his interest in the game yet.
I have never looked at role-playing games as being therapeutic for those with autism but it certainly makes a lot of sense after reading JB's explanation. Maybe there should be a greater push for autistic individuals to learn about it.