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Subject: Board games to help with autism rss

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S fessey
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My job role is to support children and young people on the autism spectrum. Recently I have had success in using board games to develop areas of difficulty especially with those labelled "high functioning" or Aspergers. I thought I'd tap into the collective mind of board game geek to see what other games you think would be useful in developing specific skills? I've put the areas I'm trying help develop believe with some games that I've used in that area. If you have any suggestions for additions please add them under the comments section. Children have really benefitted so far! They need to be games that can be played in under an hour and be relatively easy to pick up for non-gamers (I want schools and colleges to carry on playing these games after I've played them with the children!)

Theory of Mind (understanding that others have a different point of view to you/ empathy)

Apples to apples (considering what someone else would play is a demonstration of Theory of Mind)

Sharing and cooperation

Forbidden island
Forbidden desert


Fine motor skills

Jenga
Bandu

Executive functioning (organisation skills)

Settlers of Catan (resource management)

Central coherence (seeing the bigger picture and trying not to focus in on small detail)

Dixit
Mysterium


Social interaction and communication

Apples to Apples



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Josh
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I'm not sure if coup/resistance would work. Bluffing/social deduction are valuable social skills, but I don't know enough about Autism to know if it would be negative information.

Ticket to Ride has long term planning (routes and collecting cards valuable to seversl options)

Splendor has a build up element where you start purchasing small things to make purchasing larger and more valuable things easier in the future.

Sentinels of the multiverse is a co-op, much more complex than the Forbidden games, but not extremely complex rules wise. It involves a good deal of math and realizing how the players can work together in their roles. And the thene is super heroes, who doesn't like that?

Pandemicis a lighter co-op that also has specific roles, but it can be very snowbally, so people who hate setbacks would probably be frustrated. The global disease theme might not work.


Have you tried anything that didn't work?
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S fessey
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Thanks - really interesting suggestions! I've tried a few that haven't worked - but it really depends on the child and their interests. The bigger constraint tends to be time... playing games in a school day is too to manage!
 
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S fessey
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It's a tough one, alright. Minecraft is so very popular with those on the spectrum. I've seen some excellent work done in schools with the minecraft education servers.
 
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Ken Lewis
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I have found that my son, who is on the spectrum, enjoyed playing abstract games when he was younger. He tended to be very linear in his thinking, making his intentions very obvious, so while we played, I would often point out possible outcomes to help foster a less linear method of thinking and to help him plan future moves.

Games he enjoyed for this are Arimaa, Hive, Kamisado, Onitama, and the Duke.

I also noticed that he preferred to play games where luck did not swing the game so much. He would not have enjoyed a game like Settlers of Catan (unless he were winning) where the dice could work against him and work with someone else and he would have no control over it.
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Erik G
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I would say that dixit falls under the category "theory of mind". That is, if you let them explain what the idea's where.

King of Tokyo might also be a good pick. It has a nice balance between doing your own thing and making sure the other does not go faster than you.I know for sure 1 person that fits your target group who really likes this game.

Finally The Werewolves of Miller's Hollow might be interesting, a bit the same category as coup mentioned above. The game is about lying, cheating, speaking the truth, cooperation and recognizing this all. This is probably very hard for your group, but if you succeed in getting them to play it, it is probably also extremely valuable in terms of learning experiences.
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Ken Lewis
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I would suggest Animal Upon Animal for fine motor skills over Jenga.

Jenga can have a negative impact upon a child for being the one to cause the tower to collapse. At least with Animal Upon Animal the game continues until one player "wins" instead of "loses".
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chris thatcher
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Quote:
My youngest child and a friends child both have Asperger's but neither could care a flying flip about board games.


Yeah. I work with clients with Aspergers and they have no interest in board games.
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Mike Macdonald
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Both of my kids (6 and 8 years old)are diagnosed autistic and go through ABA therapy. We play a lot of games. While it is hard to say what I feel works the best for their situation, we definitely avoid games with a lot of direct conflict. Depending on the programs they are working through, we vary the types of games that we play. What also helps their engagement with what we are working on is the theme of a game. They, like a lot of autistic kids, are in love with animals. So simply playing any game with an animal theme gets them thinking more strategically, whether they realize it or not. So here's a list of games that we play frequently that, I feel, have helped them grow.

Chess - abstract and creative thinking.
Hive - abstract and creative thinking.
Wizard - setting realistic goals, reward based
Takenoko - adapting to changing layouts, prioritization
Zooloretto - organization, prioritization
Flick em Up - fine motor skills
Animal upon Animal - fine motor skills
Scotland Yard - deduction, logic, reasoning
Machi Koro - organization skills
Camel Up - Understanding randomness and logic
Agricola or Agricola ACBAS - Executive functioning
Deck building or Dice building games - prioritization, but they feel like there are in control of their own fate, and they are creating their own way to play the game each time.

I may be off on some of my terminology, but I'm not an expert. They love coop games. The most cutthroat, take that type games we play are King of Tokyo and Survive, which they enjoy, but can turn south if one of them feels like they are getting picked on too much.




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Reed Dawley
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I think your choices are good for children. All good games if they can get into it. When I was a kid I took to Axis and Allies, Heroquest and Star Trek Fleet Battles for board games and Dungeons and Dragons was my favorite. RPGs worked for me.

As an Aspergerian, board games are my current thing I obsess on. Society has rules that are ever changing, it is a complicated matrix to learn and it is a moving target. The rules of life can have consequences. A buddy tells me something and I can tell him with great fervor which orifice he can stick an improbably large object into, sideways. But I can't say that to coworkers, they have a different matrix in my head. My boss, a different one. My chain of command even different. I tell my bosses bosses boss to stick a lamp up his nose and I get in trouble. It all needs little internal boxes, decision trees and dossiers.

Games have well defined rules and no consequences. I don't feed my family in Agricola, I lose points. I step too close in battlecon I leave myself open to attack. Worst thing that happens is I lose. Big deal. It is a tiny self contained ecosystem with set defined rules and so much to internalize in my brain. Depending on the little aspie/autistic you just find their focus and go from there. As they get older here are some others.

Collectors? Pick a euro game, Agricola, for instance, collect materials and build. Castles of Burgundy, collect animals or buildings and build up your city.

Tinkerers? Any game where customization is a thing like Automobiles, Dominion, Star Realms.

Readers? Tales of the Arabian Nights is great for this, game is random but tells a unique story every time.

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Clark D. Rodeffer
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As a parent of children on the spectrum, I'll be following this thread with interest. The first thing I'll say, though, is that Autism presents itself in a wide variety of ways. Because no two individuals are alike, sweeping generalities are less likely to be helpful than individual experiences.

My older daughter (currently thirteen years old, diagnosed with Asperger's in 2008) enjoys games of many types, including online computer games in which the rules and limitations of action are controlled by the program. But she also enjoys several card games, abstract strategy games, and eurogames. Some of her favorites include Aquarius, Small World, Halma, Backgammon, War, Minecraft / Minetest, Sims, Animal Jam, Pictionary, Dixit, Rory's Story Cubes, and Lines of Action. She is a creative type who enjoys decorating, designing, and building things on her terms. When she was eight years old, she authored an abstract strategy game, Play Win.

My younger son (currently six years old, diagnosed with Autism in 2013) also enjoys a variety of games, especially computer or console games with strong speed and dexterity elements, as well as physical games that feature or mirror these. He also enjoys quiz games. Some of his favorites include Minecraft / Minetest, games in the Angry Birds, Sonic, and Mario franchises, Tag, Down, E.R. Surgery Simulator: Emergency Doctor, Phase 10, Minecraft Card Game, Toca Blocks, Where's My Water? and Geometry Dash. He is a very active, strong physical type who also enjoys geography.
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Peter Gray
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It's not been mentioned yet, but how about police precinct. It's a coop that develops prioritising skills whilst emphasising that teamwork element, and with a strong moral compass as well.

The only thing might be the theme and story can take a bit of a back seat to the mechanics at times. However it reinforces the fact that despite strong rules etc in life, sometimes the wrong things and people can get the upper hand, a win is far from guaranteed.

With regards to motor control/ manipulation skills Bausak is a good game, with several variants of play including coop and competitive modes.

Beyond Baker Street is a good coop about sharing information and deduction
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David Chapman
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casaubon wrote:

Finally The Werewolves of Miller's Hollow might be interesting, a bit the same category as coup mentioned above. The game is about lying, cheating, speaking the truth, cooperation and recognizing this all. This is probably very hard for your group, but if you succeed in getting them to play it, it is probably also extremely valuable in terms of learning experiences.


I wouldn't recommend Werewolf in any form because it has player elimination. You really don't want to tell an autistic child that he can't play any more.

On the other hand, in the same vein I've played Dead Last with an autistic boy (aged around 9) and not only did he have a fantastic time, his mother said she'd never seen him play so well with others. You can be eliminated from a round, but rounds tend to last maybe two minutes and then you're right back in again. It's got elements of deduction, persuasion and bluffing and the final showdown teaches cooperation with a club: you can get everything if you try to steal, but if both players try to steal they get nothing and everyone else gets a bonus.
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Warren Adams
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casaubon wrote:
King of Tokyo might also be a good pick. It has a nice balance between doing your own thing and making sure the other does not go faster than you.I know for sure 1 person that fits your target group who really likes this game.
The West Australian Boardgaming Association recently had a visit from an autism support group and King of Tokyo was a hit with them. Hey, That's My Fish! was also popular.
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Warren Adams
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CDRodeffer wrote:
Because no two individuals are alike, sweeping generalities are less likely to be helpful than individual experiences.
Really important point.
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S fessey
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I agree completely. One connecting factor of the young people I work with is that are "high functioning" as they are all in "mainstream" education. There's been loads of great suggestions on here. It'll be interesting to look st the groups I've set up and try to match some games to them!
 
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Reed Dawley
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I am high functioning, hold a good job (weirdly in the tech field, who would have thought) and can mostly keep it in check. Outsiders can't tell that I need to plan my routes out to make sure that I don't have to turn left across traffic and that going into a crowded space makes me physically ill. My close friends know and my family, of course.

In my personal experience I love something in every game that isn't pure luck (Zombie Dice, I'm looking at you). I can have three games with sci-fi trading themes and I will find one differentiating mechanism and that means I want to play all of them. I really do think that having a small ruleset and a small board that defines your parameters for your world for small stretches helps relax my brain.

As I have played more and more games I have found things I like but my favorite thing is having people who also focus on this tiny microcosm of the game and ignore the bigger world. I just have to keep from data dumping them, attempting to pour my hours of research into a game that I have distilled down to the important points and strategies. I have to understand that people don't soak up info like a sponge. I use my "being human" powers to figure out why different people play games and that helps me understand people as a whole. It forces me out of my comfort zone and pushes me to go out and be social and play with people. Albeit in my ordered fashion, Thursday I hit the game store at 1315, they open at 1300 and I like to give them time to set up. Last time I was there the manager had me explaining games he hadn't played to customers because he knows that I internalize rulesets and have refined my data passage style to cover things in broad strokes with punctuation of different actual circumstances that happened while I play.

All of this is good and healthy, for me anyway. Next step, actually join a game group and stop foisting games onto my family and friends... Its a long and arduous process that I will continually overthink.

Any questions or a gamer Aspie, shoot away.
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S fessey
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Wow. Thanks so much for that reply - really insightful! I do have a few questions but I haven't the time to ask them right now - I'll try and post a few as soon as I can!

Thanks for the reply. Really interesting!
 
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