Struggling to bond with your autistic teen doesn’t mean you’re a failure, many parents of children on the autism spectrum have difficulties in this area. Keith Stewart, author of the upcoming book A Boy Made of Blocks, recently wrote an article in The Guardian outlining his experience with bonding with his autistic child. The way he did it? Through video games.
How to use video games to bond with your autistic teen
Keith Stewart, as a father, was really concerned with whether his son was going to be able to express himself positively–a common struggle among autistic teens. But then his son stumbled across video games. It was a simple one to begin with, one where the character moved his head along with the motion of the PS3 controller. His son was so happy and involved, it was amazing for him. Instead of sitting back and letting his son play alone, Stewart got involved. He played video games with his son, making it a time for bonding and a safe space. He found that his son love creating and learning things in this virtual world. He was good at it. In this virtual universe, his son’s autism became an advantage, not a disability.
Stewart’s son had issues expressing himself in the real world, whether it be with words or crayons, but he could do it easily through video games. After a couple of years of playing various games, his son found Minecraft. Minecraft is a popular game where one can interact with the virtual world by building huge castles, making tools, or fighting off creatures. While his son had difficulty with sitting still with crayons and paper, he loved making things in Minecraft. He excelled in it. Video games have a structured environment and clear rules unlike much of the real world, making it especially appealing to those with autism. Stewart’s main message he wanted to emphasize was that if a parent wants to get to know and bond with their child, they need to go to a place where their child is comfortable.
Like anything else, there can be too much
Yes, you can overdo it like anything else. Stewart spoke about how you, as a parent, can keep video games–or something else electronic–as a fun tool for bonding, learning, and self-expression. He said it’s imperative to interact with your autistic teen in their activities and to set clear boundaries.That means taking the time to sit down, pick up the controller, and play along, just like you would throw a baseball in the backyard.