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Video Game Helps Kids Understand Experiences Of Peers On The Autism Spectrum

PrismAutism215A new game developed by Carnegie Mellon University students is helping elementary schoolers understand what life is like for kids on the autism spectrum.

Created by the university’s Entertainment Technology Center, Prism uses its animal characters as allegories for the challenges those with autism face.

The game begins in a lush, 3-D forest teeming with animals and scored with whimsical music. Players take on a fox character, and to save your home from a flood, you must work with the other animals to build a dam across the river.

Because foxes are nocturnal animals, parts of the game set during daylight are designed to be overwhelming, Daniel Wolpow, a graduate student at the center and the game’s writer and producer, said.

“Somebody with autism, when they’re experiencing sensory overload, might flap their arms, for example, or shake their leg,” Wolpow said. “Do any sort of repetitive behavior that might help calm their nerves in that situation.”

The game’s other characters also represent aspects of autism. There’s the bear and boar who only communicate through emojis representing barriers to communication, the shy and nonverbal moose who players can still engage by repeatedly interacting with the character and the fawn who is fascinated with fireflies.

Prism is a product of the university’s Entertainment Technology Center, a two-year graduate program that combines the arts with computer science. Forty percent of the program’s students have technical backgrounds, the other forty are artists, and the rest come from a wide range of disciplines.

Prism is now available to play for free online, as well as in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. The game takes about 30 minutes to play and comes with a downloadable discussion guide for teachers.

Excerpted from “Video Game Helps Kids Understand Experiences Of Peers On The Autism Spectrum” on WESA, Pittsburgh’s NPR station. Read the full article online.

You can also listen to a short podcast about this project from Pittsburgh Tech Report:

Source: WESA | Video Game Helps Kids Understand Experiences Of Peers On The Autism Spectrum, http://www.wesa.fm/post/video-game-helps-kids-understand-experiences-peers-autism-spectrum | © 2018 90.5 WESA

Have questions? CHC can help. To schedule an evaluation or to get advice about your child’s challenges, call or email a CHC Care Coordinator at 650.688.3625 or careteam@chconline.org

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