Games are hard for autistics. Yes, these kids often do well in circumstances with clear patterns and expectations. And it’s true that a game, once learned and loved, can become an obsession. The problem, however, is learning the game and dealing with all the human details that go with it.
In Chutes and Ladders, for instance, you have to take time to distribute game pieces and find the dice. With Uno, you must shuffle the deck and deal out the cards. These necessary parts of any game are bewildering and excruciating for autistic kids, or at least for Martin. My son perceives these activities as needless hurdles between himself and the pleasure of the game.
And so it is with Wii. Martin’s cousin has a Wii. Martin loves to play Wii golf and bowling. He is dreadful at both, but enjoys the swinging of the arms and the sight of balls flying or rolling on the screen. What he doesn’t understand and cannot tolerate are the moments when you must scroll through screens to note which player is playing, when you must reset the game, or see the score. He doesn’t want any of those things. He simply wants himself and his playmate to swing their arms endlessly and watch the balls forever.
Today, in a fit of frustration at the more mundane moments of Wii, Martin went crazy. He hit his cousin who is bigger than him. Then he hit his cousin who is smaller than him. After being sent home, he still seemed mad and confused. So no more Wii.
As far as I know, the only game Martin can play is an adapted board game about presidential trivia. When we get through our first game of Candyland, I’ll let you know.