While moms and dads everywhere are celebrating the phenomenon known as Pokémon Go, which is getting their kids off the couch and playing outside in their quest for the cartoon creatures in the real world, perhaps no one is happier than special-needs parents.
They’re posting all over Facebook how thrilled they are with the new game, which has been downloaded by millions in the past week. Joan Leigh Flores shared this status update about her 10-year-old autistic son, who can be overwhelmed by sensory input so easily he wants to stay indoors: “It makes him WANT to be outside…walking. And I get my Fitbit steps in. Winning. #PokemonGo.”
And then there’s the opportunity for family time, since parents often play with their kids, as well as impromptu exchanges that can be enriching for those on the spectrum, who often struggle with social skills. “In all seriousness,” Flores wrote, “we ran into so many others also playing tonight. His excitement each time he caught on, and him trying to help another little boy that was having trouble, it melted my heart.”
There has been much written as to the dangers of the app, given that it can give the maker unprecedented access to a player’s personal information, but these articles also offer instructions as to how to circumvent this intrusion.
According to another mom whose 12-year-old is autistic and suffers from severe depression that keeps her isolated, it’s well worth the hassle. “Went on an evening walk with my daughter,” she posted. “Y’all can post all the negative things you want about Pokémon Go, but it’s getting my kid out of the house. My kid who struggles with depression and anxiety and sometimes won’t leave her room. #worthit.”