This is actually a really simple one. Eye-hand coordination, interaction with something that doesn’t expect or demand eye contact, and engaging the brain without engaging the body is all part of the world of video games. Most of us who have played Sonic or Mario or any other popular video game know that we completely lose track of time, we don’t hear anything else happening around us and we don’t see anything else happening either. We are completely engaged by what is happening in the game. The only difference for kids and adults with autism is that that’s exactly how they would like their world to be. It’s less threatening, less stimulating and more rewarding for them to enter a game world than live in the real one. Given some of their talents as autistic people, they are also very good at it.
Video games also incorporate a lot of music and unusual sounds, which some people with autism really enjoy. If they don’t have a problem with auditory sensory overload, they absolutely love music and unusual sounds, and video games gives them exactly what they love. If music and sounds weren’t enough, the fixation with accomplishing the task or mission and receiving immediate gratification draws them right over the edge.
While this is all perfectly natural for them, the big concern parents and caregivers need to be aware of is that sometimes the adult or child with autism will put the video games before all of their other needs. They will not sleep all night and try to get up to play the games, or they will not eat or go to the bathroom when they probably should. The best thing anyone can do in this situation is to put all electronic devices on lockdown overnight and present the child or adult with a timer or scheduled amount of video game play time such that they aren’t anxious about not being able to play. There are parental controls on most video game consoles and hand held consoles can be put in a safe or lockbox at night. Computers should also be locked down, as most kids will trade the game consoles for the next closest thing.
More on similar concerns:
1). Why do autistic kids like Thomas the Train or any other train characters/toys?
2). Can autistic children play professional football?