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Jul 27, 2016 12:02 PM EDT

How 'Pokémon GO' Can Help Students With Autism


"Pokémon GO" may have surprisingly helpful benefits for students with autism. This can also be a great help to teachers in facilitating learning for these children.

According to Education Week, "Pokémon GO" has an "interdisciplinary" nature that appeals to some educators. Apparently, the augmented reality game can be used to teach students subjects such as social studies, local history, math, geography and literacy.

Moreover, "Pokémon GO" could have surprising benefits in store for special education classes. The game's real-time experiential aspect as well as its visually-stimulating content could encourage students with autism to make friends, go out and explore the world.

"Many pleasant social interactions are built around areas of shared interest," Yale autism specialist James McPartland told New York Magazine. "'Pokémon GO' is a topic of great interest to many people, on and off the spectrum. In this way, it's a great conversation starter and provides children on the spectrum a topic that they are comfortable with and may be knowledgeable about."

University of Utah autism specialist Anne Kirby also admitted how "Pokémon GO" is helping with the eye contact issue on children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). "'Pokémon Go' encourages people to go out into the world and explore new places, but makes it necessary to do so while looking at your device screen," she said. "Thus, it may be providing a built-in and socially acceptable way for youth with ASD to engage socially while reducing the emphasis on eye contact."

Huffington Post reported that Lenore Koppelman from New York City took to Facebook to share how shocked she was when her son with autism was socializing because of "Pokémon GO." Her child, Ralphie, has trouble with pragmatic speech, communicating his thoughts and autism-related OCD.

"Pokémon GO" has helped Ralphie make connections with another boy at a bakery. Her son also chatted with their neighbor over the game. Koppelman revealed how shocked she and her husband were.

"We were looking at each other with shocked and delighted expressions, sharing the same thought: something is suddenly happening, and whatever it is, it is magic," she said. "He seems far more relaxed about breaking his usual routines. He seems happier. He's laughing more. He seems more confident."

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