Despite the negative perception gaming has due to mainstream media, video games have plenty of educational benefits. It can help students develop better problem-solving skills, enhance their memory, and even improve coordination. The truth is, if utilized effectively, gaming can be a useful aid in child and teenage development – and this fact is even more true for SEN pupils.
SEN children are those who struggle with learning difficulties and/or disabilities that make it harder for these children to learn at the same rate of others of the same age, meaning they may require an autism-friendly curriculum. As a result, a lot of these children require specialized and unconventional methods of teaching, and video games are one of the technologies leading the way for SEN pupil’s education.
Accessibility of Gaming
Gaming is definitely a more able body pastime, however, there have been good strides made to make it more accessible. The biggest obstruction is the input method, as usually, it requires a tactile controller that won’t suit those with limited motor skills. Thankfully, there are plenty of great custom controller kits that utilize much bigger buttons and more responsive pressure sensors to enable even the most critically disabled to play, have fun, and learn.
Visually, games have also put steps in place to make sure it helps those with sensory issues. Audio can be altered, as well as brightness, and even the game’s framerate can be reduced to give players more time to respond to prompts. As well as this VR technology has really helped improve accessibility and is set to become a main feature in gaming for the future, however, with how quickly technology is changing, there will always be the question, what does the future of gaming look like?
Despite some potential accessibility issues, there are still plenty of wonderful games with huge educational benefits that can strongly contribute to a SEN pupil’s development. Here are some of the key educational benefits gaming has.
Can Develop Teamwork and Communication Skills
The majority of the gaming market consists of online, team-based games. It may be a bit daunting at first, but allowing a SEN child to play online with strangers in tactical games can really encourage teamwork and communication skills as players work together to achieve objectives.
These types of games, where players can communicate over voice-chat, can also help reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation that is quite common within the SEN community. This interaction not only develops vital educational skills, such as taking commands, allocating tasks and making collective decisions, but it also helps SEN children feel more social.
Massive Stress Reliever
Gaming is a lot of people’s favourite pastime because they find it relaxing and an escape from the pressures of the outside world. These stress-relieving qualities are valuable for SEN children and their learning, as a more relaxed brain is one that can deal with new information better and is overall just far more productive.
Of course, there are some games that are more relaxing than others, so it’s recommended to avoid high octane first-person shooters or brawlers. The most relaxing games are those that encourage exploration and immersion.
The stress relieving benefits of gaming is also one that is starting to be adopted by businesses. In fact, there are plenty of office-based organisations that are using gaming within their technology for business to help boost productivity and create a less stressful work environment, to foster better relationships and potentially better quality of work.
There have been many neurological studies about the prospect of video games improving concentration, and these studies suggest that even one hour of video gaming a day can improve your attention to detail, meaning that you’re able to concentrate a lot more.
In terms of SEN educational benefits, there is a form of treatment that uses video games to help treat and monitor ADHD. The game in question is called EndeavorRX and is designed to not only placate ADHD patients but also help them develop better cognitive functioning. Although this treatment requires a prescription, it just goes to show how useful games can be in improving concentration, which can then be used to aid in the learning process.
Aid in Treatment of Depression And Anxiety
Depression and anxiety are not uncommon in children with SEN needs, and unfortunately, these emotional disorders can have a huge impact on that child’s ability to learn, on top of their already existing learning difficulties. Therefore, finding solutions to dispel and treat these mental issues can really open up a SEN child to learning.
Video games can help treat depression, as when we’re playing games, we feel far more confident, energetic and emotionally positive, which can be transferred into real life. The reason this happens is simple: when people are depressed two parts of the brain start to shrink and deteriorate, the hippocampus and the reward pathways. Gaming stimulates these two parts of the brain, meaning that gaming keeps them healthy and engaged.
Developing new routines, managing time, and transitioning between activities are all things SEN children can struggle with. Video games can provide a platform for children to practice these skills and help them develop better organisational habits which can be transferred into their learning. Games that emphasize visual scheduling and break objectives into smaller, more manageable tasks can drastically help increase organisational skills, which can be used to help them learn better.
To conclude, the right video game, monitored the right way can provide drastic educational benefits for a SEN child, ranging from communication, problem-solving and concentration. As well as this, it also offers other benefits to enhance their lives in many ways, making gaming a really good thing for SEN children to do. Include the advancements in its accessibility, more than ever are Special Educational Needs pupils able to enjoy playing and the benefits it entails.
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