Special Educational Needs and Games in Education

Although video games and other digital media display the capacity to capture the mind of children with attention problems, it is not sufficient to propose them as a ‘treatment’.  Parents and teachers of children with attention problems , for example, almost universally agree that these children can easily sustain their focus while playing video games, surfing the Internet, or using other digital media. Games (mostly puzzles and short action games) have been proposed in various sites for the range of neurological deficits a child may present. (e.g. http://learningworksforkids.com/adhd/  ) however these are simply exercises mostly targeting skill remediation.

Beyond enhancing learning for literacy and basic life skills, digital games can promote different paths to succeeding in more creative ways. There is evidence to suggest that successful entrepreneurship is more common amongst individuals with dyslexia and other learning disabilities than in the typical population. Individuals with language difficulties may learn differently leading to more creativity, they may have to work harder, develop compensatory skills, and be more persistent and they tend to effectively delegate authority and have excellent skills in oral communication and problem solving.

Another body of research focuses on Minecraft is a video game designed by a Swedish game designer and now owned by Microsoft as it became the most successful game after Tetris. The creative and building aspects of Minecraft enable players to build constructions out of textured cubes in a 3D generated world. Other activities in the game include exploration, resource gathering, crafting, and combat; they can be played online and off and have seen many children playing it in schools as well as at home. Some examples focusing on both learning outcomes but also collaborative skills are given in the blog below.


Another way to think about online games is highly successful virtual reality game “Brigadoon” which is described as a real-world experiment in social skills made virtual, a private enclave limited to a select mixture of caregivers and individuals with Asperger Syndrome (ASD), a higher functioning form of autism. The inhabitants, or “Dooners” as they call themselves, enjoy the same privileges as those in the more public arenas of “Second Life.” They are free to create their own digital representations of themselves, called “avatars,” build virtual houses and seek out friends. And, most importantly, they are free to create a “second life” with a level of social interaction that, for reasons of their condition, has been hard to come by in their real lives.

Read more at http://www.nbcnews.com/id/7012645/#.U1UB8sfc3Rw

Far from being harmful to young people, these games have shown to promote valuing the skills they already posses and allowing them to find their own ways into communication at the same time as allowing teachers, parents and the rest of their world to understand them.