There has been a lot of debate about the value of online games for children versus the damage that addiction to those games can cause. What most studies have shown is that used effectively and as a supplement to normal education and training, online resources can go a long way toward accelerating a child's pace of learning information and skills.
Much of the effectiveness of online games and learning tools comes from how the game is designed, and the lessons and skills that are embedded into the game's content. One excellent example of how this is executed particularly well is Whiz Kid Games
, a game website created specifically to help autistic children learn.
Whiz Kid Games Main Screen
The amount of content on this website becomes quickly apparent after the introduction video fades to the main menu. This menu is filled with a four by four grid of sixteen high quality, free online games for autistic children.
Keeping in mind that children with autism perceive and interact with the world in different ways than other kids, it's interesting to see how the simplicity, sound and images are all tailored for the cognitive ability of these very special kids.
The Ron Gets Dressed Game
Each game on the site teaches specific skills. Some of the lessons are educational, such as matching images sorting objects. However, many of the games also teach very important life skills, such as using the right words to express yourself, dressing appropriately based on the season, or picking up and organizing your bedroom. One example of this is the wonderful game called "Ron Gets Dressed."
Instructions for Ron Gets Dressed
While reading skills very widely for most children, the ability to read isn't a limiting factor at Whiz Kid Games because every part of the site with text includes an audio voice that reads those words aloud. This makes it very easy for any child, with any level of ability, to follow along with the game and understand exactly what they need to do.
Playing Ron Gets Dressed
In the Ron Gets Dressed game, the child playing the game is instructed to dress Ron appropriately for the whether that is displayed outside the window. A pleasant voice announces that today is a warm sunny day, so the child must drag articles of clothing from the wardrobe onto Ron's body.
The great thing about these games is that when a wrong choice is made, the game does not do much more than quickly correct the error and allow for another try. This reduces the likelihood of the child getting upset about mistakes. After every correct choice, the voice praises the child and then asks them to continue on to the pants, shoes and then the hat.
The impressive thing about this game is that each level includes the introduction of a new element that the child must learn to deal with correctly. For example, on day two, the wardrobe includes dirty clothes - so in addition to choosing the right clothes for the weather, the child must avoid getting dressed in dirty clothes.
Grouping With Sketchy
In the game Grouping With Sketchy, the child needs to accomplish important tasks that help develop pattern recognition and grouping skills. Once the child selects the correct objects to place into the crayon box, they are rewarded with a very fun, animated congratulation screen.
Reward Screens Feature Fun Imagery and Sound
In all of the games at this site, the final window is always a very positive moving image congratulating the child for doing such a wonderful job. This window is filled with fun, colorful animation and sounds that are sure to make any kid smile.
Whiz Kid Games has resources and games that sometimes seem as though they would be appropriate for just about any young child, but some of the games are clearly geared to assist autistic children with developing those skills that are most important for them to practice. One example of this is the game "Robbie the Robot," where Robbie teaches autistic children about correctly identifying the right facial expressions to match different emotions.
A Day at the Market
A similar game to Robbie the Robot is "A Day at the Market," where young autistic children will learn correct responses to different statements - developing important conversational skills that they may not get time to develop in other educational sessions. These are important living skills for children to practice.
Another example of a "living skills" type of game is "Daniel Robo-Cat", which takes the child through the steps of toasting a piece of bread and making a jam sandwich. While these are simple skills, they are presented in a way that makes it interesting, exciting and very fun to learn.
There are many misconceptions about autistic children, and this leads to a lack of appropriate educational resources for these wonderful children. The Whiz Kid Games website seeks to fill that need with online games and lesson tailored specifically for how these special children learn.
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