I never thought we’d get a gaming system (lesson #1226 – never say never!) but we found ourselves last year asking each other if it might be a good time to get one. We shopped for a game system, weighed the pros and cons, looked at prices and games. We got more excited as we shopped. I still felt guilty about the cost and the idea that we were in some way encouraging mindless zombie activities. We tried to justify it all by considering how everyone in the family might enjoy it. We finally settled on a Wii …and we love it!
You see, my Typical son and husband are very “into” sports. My Autism son is not (frankly, neither am I). We thought that, perhaps, his lack of coordination just kept him from enjoying sports. We thought that a Wii, with the more physical interaction, could add to our Autism son’s sensory diet and motor skill development, as well as give him a way to play sports that didn’t require great control of a ball, actual running, etc. We rationalized that we’d save on remodeling costs since our Typical son could play this and not tear the house apart when kept in on rainy days. I rationalized that I might could use it to spice up my exercise routine (that is, if I actually had one).
We took the plunge and bought the Wii. We brought it home and placed the shiny box on the coffee table. My Typical son rushed to rip off the plastic wrap, while my younger son danced about, soaking up the excitement. I read the directions and we hooked up all of the cables and cords. The anticipation of that first game was thrilling. We took the controls in hand and played what ended up being a really pathetic game of doubles tennis – but we laughed and yelled and got our heart rates up. We all enjoyed it very much, all except for my Autism son, who tried swinging the “racket” once and then refused to play any more. Since then we’ve played and added to our game library, but my Autism son hasn’t gotten into the sports games at all – not tennis, not golf, not even bowling (which he sometimes enjoys in real life). We felt a bit dismayed. I felt guilty (gasp! Just the thing I warn others about and here I was succumbing to it once again!) for purchasing something that left one of us out.
Then, surprise surprise, my Typical son brought home a quirky game called Cooking Mama Cookoff! My Autism son, a bit wary at first, soon was drawn to this strange and silly game where he pretends to chop, peel, stir, crack eggs, and create gourmet dishes. He never wants to help me cook in the kitchen (of course not!), but he loves this game, and we get such a kick out of playing it with him. I figure, not only does it entertain, but he practices controlling repetitive “small” motions, just like you would when chopping or slicing vegetables (that rationalization again :)).
Now I look at this game system with a sense of satisfaction. We have found another way to include everyone in the family. We each have our preferred games but we can all play together. Wii scored! Wii play!
Now we have a new challenge – when grocery shopping my son refuses to leave until we buy ink for the “Squid in Ink Sauce”. Sigh