Are you already addicted to Pokémon Go? You’re not alone. While half the world is running around chasing Rattata and Pidgey, one boy is picking up some vital social skills.
“Thanks to the suggestion of my fellow-autism-mama friend and fellow body painter Ren Allen, I finally introduced Ralphie to Pokemon Go tonight,” Lenore Koppelman writes in a Facebook post. “She was right. This thing is AMAZING.”
Koppelman’s six-year-old son Ralphie was diagnosed with hyperlexia and autism just after his second birthday and often has difficulty communicating with others, particularly kids.
“Hyperlexia is an unusually early ability to read,” Ralph’s father Steve Koppelman tells Buzzfeed. “It’s often accompanied by an all-consuming fixation on letters and words. It is usually considered a trait that manifests in a small percentage of kids on the autistic spectrum,”
But after introducing Ralph to Pokémon Go a few nights ago, they’ve noticed a drastic change in their child’s behaviour.
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“After he caught his first one at the bakery, he was shrieking with excitement. He ran outside to catch more,” Koppelman writes. “A little boy saw him and recognized what he was doing. They immediately had something in common. He asked Ralphie how many he had caught. Ralph didn’t really answer him, other than to shriek “POKEMON!!!!” and jump up and down with excitement while flapping his arms. Then the little boy showed him how many HE had caught (over 100!) and Ralph said “WOWWWW!” and they high-fived.”
“I almost cried.”
Koppelman explains that she’s often struggled with getting Ralph out of the house but how with Pokémon Go he’s become more more engaged with his environment as well as the people within it.
“He NEVER wants to go to the playground at night, because it’s out of his usual routine. He is normally SO RIGID about his routine. But tonight he was happy to change things up, and do it!”
“MY AUTISTIC CHILD IS SOCIALIZING. Talking to people. Smiling at people. Verbalizing. Participating in pragmatic speech. With total strangers. Looking up at them. Sometimes even in the eye. Laughing with them. Sharing something in common. This is AMAZING.”
Since sharing Ralph’s story, Koppelman has heard from other parents of autistic children who have had similar positive responses to the game.
“Sure, he still struggles sometimes,” his dad tells Buzzfeed. “He always will. But this game has become a great tool for him to help him through it all.”
What do you think of Ralph’s experience with Pokémon Go? Let us know your thoughts by tweeting to @YahooStyleCA.