A free iPad and Android game is delivering fresh observations about children with Autism and Asperger Syndrome.
Nurfland, the first in a series of games being developed by Project Austismus, teaches children aged 4-8 how to distinguish between various human emotions. Data collected as autistic children play, combined with feedback from parents and teachers, has quickly delivered new insights into their condition
Druhin Mukherjee, Project Autismus founder and senior lecturer at Media Design School says it was always thought that autistic children did not understand emotions like sadness or empathy.
“But our initial results indicate they do understand these emotions they just do not express them in the same way.”
Ali Cowley’s son Nikau has mild Austism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and has always engaged with technology and learned through games.
“Ever since Nikau was young he would only talk to us by quoting TV ads and trying to relate a certain quote to what he was thinking. He even learned the alphabet through Thomas the Tank Engine card game. From kindergarten to primary we made visual prompt booklets, as he would only respond to instructions printed out as opposed to me telling him to do something. iPads are the new booklets and I can see Nurfland being beneficial to our ASD kids.”
The second game in the series is currently in development and will be released in December for children aged 8 years and older. Dost will require players to work together to achieve an outcome, helping to make communication and relationships more natural.
Media Design School is providing funding that will allow Project Autismus to purchase a game engine and release Dost on a wider variety of platforms including Blackberry, Windows Phone and PC.
“We are excited to see games have a wider impact than entertainment and influence education, business, health and science,” says Media Design School CEO Darryn Melrose.