Looking for thoughts on social skills modeling game for autism spectrum kids

I have been toying with the idea of creating a game to help model social situations for children on the autism spectrum. It would be close to a life sim type “game” but would concentrate on correct social behavior, picking up on social cues, things like that. My youngest child is high functioning autistic, so I can see the value in something such as this, but wondered what other people thought? Would it be useful as a text only product? Are there enough products like this out there already? Would it catch a child’s attention at the third to fifth grade level?

Thank you in advance for your feedback.

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It’s a nice idea, I’ll admit to not knowing enough about the situation to say how in demand it would be. As text only, do you think it will be interesting enough to keep a average 3rd grader’s attention for long? (I’ll bow to your knowledge in this area). If not, you could definitely insert images to add to the program.

Choicescript does have the capacity to add images, which would be invaluable in a game like this, pictures of exaggerated facial expressions to correspond with the text would allow the player to test their ability to read expressions and possibly teach them the fundamental facial ticks associated with certain emotions.

It would work (probably) but a pure-text game might be a little more difficult than a more holistic approach. I would say that there are other software styles that might stand you in better stead.

The best example off the top of my head is ren’py, a ‘visual novel’ software that is designed to work in tandem with pictures that can have choices programmed into it fairly simply (in coding terms…).

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Oh no, not the correct social behavior and recognizing expressions stuff again. I absolutely loathed that stuff as a kid (being an, as you call it, high functioning autistic person myself.) That might just be because my mother tried to force those types of things down my throat when I was little though. She did it out of love, but it was still pretty darn annoying.

Then again I’m not convinced those type of things actually work. They didn’t for me anyway. The point is, I understood the theory. How people look when they’ve got some sort of emotion, what is the right behavior in a given situation, what really isn’t acceptable. The real problem for me was (and is) that I just wasn’t able to put those things into practice. It just takes to much energy to analyze every darn situation before you do or say something, and by the time you even get to that point the conversation or whatever has moved on already and whatever you were trying to do or say would already be irrelevant to the situation.

Aaaaand I went on a rant about autism again. Darn it. Anyway, I’d say your best bet is to ask your kid what it thinks about it. Just going ahead and forcing it on him, her or whatever it identifies as could very well result in a just as antagonistic response on the whole subject as mine. It probably depends on the kid though.


I’ve an inclination to agree with Cecilia, being diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome myself.
(Though, AS isn’t quite the same as High-Functioning Autism.)

That being said, I comprehend the immense value, and necessity, of learning how to read social cues.
I got into a lot of trouble, back when I was a kid, due to my lack of knowledge pertaining to the notion of correct social behavior.

Having the ability to read social cues will provide more beneficial opportunities, and a chance to live a more “normal” life, to a child diagnosed with High-Functioning Autism or Asperger’s Syndrome.

The process of learning social cues may not be the most comfortable of experiences, but a child can only reap positive benefits from that very process.

If a child simply cannot grasp, or is too daunted by, social cues, then so be it.
The goal is to ensure that a person is able to live their life to the fullest; different people require different approaches, and learning social cues may not be the answer for everyone.
Hell, it wasn’t until my late adolescent years that I finally began to understand the concepts of correct social behavior, so coming back later (to reattempt the process) is a viable answer as well.

But, I think this game has its place and would be a welcome sight to see.

Now, pictures (in the game) would go a long way in attracting and maintaining the attention of young children.
Not completely necessary, per say, but having visual elements would definitely boost the appeal of the product.

I’m pretty sure that there probably are other products that are designed to help people improve their social skills, but I’m not sure how many of those products are specifically designed for children on the autism spectrum.

I say, go for it. :blush:

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So High-Functioning Autism is another specific designation for something that got something to do with that? I wasn’t aware of that. Maybe that niche hasn’t arrived at this part of the world yet.

Then again originally being diagnosed with PDD-nos and now with Asperger’s instead I honestly couldn’t care less what it’s called exactly. Some people’s tendencies to try and get everything into neatly defined little boxes can be a bit annoying at times.

Perhaps, but in this case, it is unarguably necessary.

Different autism yields different symptoms and challenges.
Autism is not something that can be generalized; it needs to be defined and addressed appropriately.

For instance, a key differentiating factor between High-Functioning Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome is the IQ score of an individual.

To qualify for High-Functioning Autism, a person has to have an IQ score that is, at least, higher than 70, which is considered the defining point between marginal intellectual functioning and minor intellectual impediments.

Children with Asperger’s Syndrome have IQ scores that are at located in the “normal” range, and children with AS may have even higher IQ scores.

Treatment/Therapy would not be equally effective in its application to these two diagnoses; therefore, these two diagnoses must be classified and treated accordingly, and separately.

If you don’t mind me saying, that’s why your diagnosis was updated from PDD-nos to Asperger’s.

It is important to know what type of autism a person has because no form of autism is exactly alike.

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In answer to the thread question, all I can say is listen to the experiences of those on the autism spectrum.

@Packet I thought they’d renamed/reclassified Asperger’s fairly recently. At least in the DSM-5 book that the American psychiatrists look at.


No two people are exactly alike, which is why the classifications bug me a little bit. But I guess some general definitions are useful from time to time.

And by the way, the tangible reason why my diagnosis was updated from PDD-nos to Asperger’s was that I had to be re-diagnosed for government support reasons and the result of the test I took was something different this time around. Then again my first diagnosis was well over ten years ago, so it’s not too surprising to see some changes there. (including the score of my IQ test having dropped from 143 to 121 :cry:)

@FairyGodfeather Now that you mention it, the lady who took that test did mention that something like that was going to happen in the near future.

You’re absolutely right; they did.

I think the reclassification was a simple measure to wholly include Asperger’s Syndrome into the Autism Spectrum; before the change was made, Asperger’s Syndrome was typically distinguished from other forms of autism because no delay of language exists in children diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.

Now, if I’m correct, Asperger’s Syndrome is simply recognized as being on the autism spectrum as opposed to being an “exception.”

I see where you’re coming from, friend, and I admit, the classifications do bug me a bit too.

Oh, now that’s new to me. :flushed:

I apologize, I overstepped my boundaries in my presumption.

But, now, I’m paranoid.
The government didn’t like, come after you or anything, right? :neutral_face:

I keep thinking someone’s out to strip me of my disability benefits. :grimacing:

Aw, heck if I know.

I’m doing a little reading on this stuff and now my brain is gonna explode.
I don’t even know if I know that I know what I’m talking about. :weary:

Someone, help.
Please? :grin:

To join the others on the spectrum in their comments:

I think it would depend too much on what exactly this entails to say aye or nay, but: “This is a frown. This is a smile” is best handled by other means IMO (you could use choicescript with pictures, but I’m not sure it’s the best way to do it), but a game involving interacting with people could work.

I think that’s the exact reason they wanted me to do that. It’s not like it can just disappear or be cured or anything.

I haven’t spotted any government (or other) assassins as of yet, but if they do show up I’ll let you know :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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I’m not sure choicescript is the best format but you can try i’m not gonna stop you.

Ya the Government is onto I should know.
They hired me.

And like I said, I’ll let @Packet know once you show up. (in the knowledge that only one of the two will survive to say stuff about it :smiling_imp:)

@Cecelia_Rosewood yeaaaa… -dissolves into dark mist and flys away-

Anyway autism is something I know little about.
I barely -never- talk to people as I prefer talking to myself and I lack the ability to stick to one topic and I seem insensitive to the people that I do talk to.
So I’ll leave it up to the well informed and go inform myself a bit.

A lot of social cues are visual. I wonder whether a text-based game would be able to teach what you’re suggesting, if the idea of “teaching social skills” works at all (I’ll defer to people with more knowledge of the autism spectrum here.) I know that games like this have worked for other disorders, but not all people respond to the same things. Like, I’ve heard that animal-based therapy works for some autistic kids, whereas it would do absolutely nothing for someone with a psychotic disorder. So a similar thing could apply with roleplaying and/or text games and autism - you’d have to test concepts for that specifically.

I have worked a lot with kids with ADHD, ADD, Aspergers this past semester. One thing they couldn’t get enough of was their iPads. (Which is true for all kids, not just the ones with difficulties concentrating.) A game with enough pictures and bright colours to make it not feel educational might go a long way.

I’ll put it this way on describing cues in text:


If you can figure out how to describe that Maud (the gray one, for those who aren’t MLP fans) is smiling, you can probably do social cues in text form.

No fair making her expression look like something it isn’t in that picture. You have to get it across that this is a smile.

That’s my impression as an Aspie.

Umm… wow! okay, well… I’m a bit over whelmed at the response to my question. Honestly, I am sorry if I touched a nerve with anyone. I certainly didn’t mean to… As for forcing anything on my son, that made me smile. I couldn’t even if I wanted to so no worries. He’s a sweet boy with his own mind. I really don’t care much what his diagnoses is except that it helps him get the services and forces the school system to act a little less stupid.

So my idea was more along the lines of social stories, if anyone knows what those are? And yes, it would be like playing a game, like a life simulation game, so that it doesn’t seem like they are being lectured too. Thank you for the suggestion of the ren’py engine. I will look into it.

Oddly, I wonder if perhaps it won’t be more beneficial to have something that teaches people greater understanding for those like my son who lack the ability to understand social cues. We, as a society, wouldn’t expect a deaf individual to hear? or a blind person to see? And yet we expect those that are deaf and blind to social behavior to interpret them with little tolerance for deviation. It is because of that lack of tolerance, that I help my child to “see” and “hear” if possible. But I am also very, very aware that he must be allowed to be himself. I would be crushed if he lost that special something, that makes him so unique.

Before I end this already too long message, let me share a story with you. A few weeks before the end of school, I forgot to give my son his medication, (yes, I do give him medication for ADHD, no, I’m not entirely happy about it, but it’s only when he’s at school and it does help a lot and there are a lot of other reasons, etc… oh, and he’s on board with taking meds, btw) He just finished fourth grade. He has never been a discipline problem, never gotten in trouble before, good student, but today his teacher notices he is off somewhat. My son goes to the boy’s room and notices that there is a spot on the mirror. He decides to be helpful and clean the mirror with the bathroom soap used to wash his hands. When the teacher realizes how long, she asks another boy who tells her that my so is in the bathroom putting soap on the mirror. When my son gets back to the classroom, his teacher said to him, “You know that putting soap on the mirrors isn’t appropriate behavior. You have to go see the principle.” My son, responded respectfully by saying “okay” and doing what he was told. While he was waiting to see the principle however, he started crying, became hysterical and it took the school counselor an hour to calm him down!! He then had nightmares for the next week about the situation and didn’t want to go back to school! Okay, so the reason I have told this story is not because my son’s behavior was in the wrong. Far from it. He was trying to be helpful and his teacher mishandled the situation horribly. But my point is that I wish to spare him going through situations like this in the first place.

Thank you everyone for all your feedback. And thank you if you read this far.