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While blocks and magnetic letters are still staples of the preschool classroom, computers have begun to compete for kitchen counter space. Computer users are getting younger and younger. In fact, starting children on the computer early is quite advantageous to them. Since they are quick learners, teaching children to use a computer is a snap, even in the preschool years.
The motor skills required to accurately manipulate a mouse, along with the early reinforcement of letter and number recognition, enhance even the earliest learning experiences. This is especially true for children with autism, who need a bit of extra help with their learning abilities.
Unfortunately, a lot of online learning games are extremely busy, noisy or cluttered with images, objects to click, or moving parts that have no bearing on the game; this necessitates the use of less complex game design. Even though standard game fare makes it look as though autism and games are mutually exclusive, specifically targeted game sites prove this notion wrong.
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This site offers introductory games for the child, who needs a bit of help with mouse manipulation. Since there are a number of games, they offer sufficient diversions and varied approaches that the child will not get bored. This website came into being when parents of an autistic boy sought ways to help him learn. The mom being a special education teacher and the dad being a software developer chose games that have been uniquely tailored to the needs of a preschooler with autism.
The free portion of the Do2Learn site offers a social skills toolbar, picture cards, and also color learning activities. Four pay areas provide word pair games, object matching, and emotion recognition as well as facial expression identification. While these lessons underscore those that are commonly discussed within a preschool setting, they assist children with autism to also enhance their socialization skills.
This website is the brainchild of Stephen Schutz, Ph.D., who underwent significant struggles in his elementary school years in the subject of reading. While the site is primarily geared to first grade learning, it may also be used in the preschool setting. The Gingerbread Man game, for example, incorporates the elements of shape recognition with basic color choices. Each game is short and devoid of computer game clutter. This makes these games excellent choices for children with autism.
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Games at Home
Online games that focus on the needs of autistic game players should also be used in the home environment. If your child is using condition-appropriate games at preschool, ask the teacher to provide you with the games that are being used or introduced, so you may reinforce their lessons during the week at home. Conversely, if your child is not yet ready for preschool, these games may help her or him get a bit of a head start. If necessary, discuss the CARS rating scale -- and its applicability to the child's ability to play computer games -- with the youngster's therapist.
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- Aven’s Corner: http://www.avenscorner.com/Games.aspx
- Do2Learn: http://www.do2learn.com/
- Starfall: http://www.starfall.com