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How Can Dungeons & Dragons Help People With Autism

This piece was submitted by Daniel Carvalho. Find Daniel on Linkedin here. The piece has been edited with the permission of the author. If you would like to submit a piece contact us via Patreon.

Dungeons and dragons and autism

1 in 68 children in the USA suffer from Autism. Can playing D&D help these people in multiple areas? Worlds of fantasy have been a part of our reality since we were able to imagine

Worlds of fantasy have been a part of our reality since we were able to imagine them. Those worlds vary when it comes to proportions and nature. Usually starting from simple ideas living in those small corners of our mind. Later materialising into their own unique games, movies, TV shows, and music. Dungeons & Dragons is such an example.

What Is Dungeons And Dragons?

Dungeons & Dragons (also known as D&D), is a well-known tabletop game. It was first published in 1974 by Gary Gygax and David Arneson. It went on to inspire many famous video games such as Baldur’s Gate. The players assume the role of a character of their own creation. They use it to explore the world. There are all kinds of fantastic creature not to mention magic to keep you occupied. The size of the game depends on the limit of your imagination and that of the Dungeon Master. The Dungeon Master creates the world and its inhabitants.

The stories vary greatly from one another. A farmer can approach the players and ask for help to stop an epidemic that has been devastating his animals. A kingdom may be at risk from a political crisis. A colossal war may be about to spread along the continent. The gods themselves may are sometimes involved. What to do is in the hands of the players. They may choose to help, ignore and even take the side of the villain. For this, dialogue and teamwork are key. The players have to communicate among themselves both as players and as characters. This is the best way to reach a consensus for each situation. This is how D&D can assist patients with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

How Can Dungeons And Dragons Help People With Autism?

‘Autism Spectrum Disorders’ is a group term for a number of conditions. These conditions include items such as Asperger’s and Rett. They share identifying psychological conditions and abnormalities in relation to social interaction. These are often noticeable in the afflicted communication or interaction with the world. People with ASD often show a restricted array of interests and highly repetitive behaviour.  It’s difficult for them to face and understand the world around surround them.

The double dialogue mechanic of D&D is an excellent tool for people with ASD. It can help patients create a safe environment to practice social skills. Since it is in the context of a game it is a lot less stressful for patients. It’s a fantasy environment made by and for players. Players can explore the world with characters they create and imagined perspectives. Players can explore what having those traits would be like and this encourages empathy. They also deal with conflicts and mistakes that leave the characters wounded or worse. Yet, nothing is actually lost. The world is still there waiting.
It’s a game that is easy and fun to get into and can be experienced as a family. It can also leave a lasting impression on the players. The experiences created in the game are unique memories that players can bond over. It is the perfect environment for someone with autism to perfect their social interaction. When things go wrong and the character dies it is only a minor inconvenience. After creating a new character the player returns. This time they’ll be wiser, they’ll know not to get caught in the same trap twice. These games also help the players bond to each other over their shared adventures. While there are no real world consequences there are real world profits.

After Notes
This was a guest post by Daniel Carvalhol.
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