This article originally appeared on, a site dedicated to talking about games and technology in relation to “alternative learners,” which includes kids with learning disabilities, dyslexia, autism, and ADHD. We’re excited to have a relationship with LearningWorks For Kids, cross-posting articles and supporting each other in emphasizing the positive aspects of gaming and technology. In this post, Dr. Randy Kulman gives a list of five great games that can help kids with autism.

Many children with mild symptoms of autism (referred to as Level 1 autism spectrum disorder) enjoy playing popular video games with their peers. Playing popular video games allows them to share an interest with other kids their age, practice and improve social skills, and learn a variety of problem-solving and executive functioning skills. Playing popular games also helps children affected by autism relate to their peers, provides them with an opportunity to excel at something of interest, and often produces increased levels of interaction with others. Here are five popular games that help children with autism spectrum disorders get connected with their peers.

autism spectrum disorder

Minecraft provides a safe setting in which kids with autism spectrum disorders can practice social interaction by encouraging cooperation and communication. Self-control, regulation of affect, goal-setting, and flexibility are all skills exercised in the game.

autism spectrum disorder

If… is an engaging game that helps children exercise social and emotional learning (SEL) skills. If…’s in-game lessons are easily translated to the real world, and the outcome of the story depends heavily upon the kinds of choices that players make within the game.

New Super Mario Bros. U autism spectrum disorder

New Super Mario Bros. U is a game for the Nintendo Wii U that heavily utilizes the console’s motion sensor peripherals. NSMBU not only exercises motor skills, it challenges players to work cooperatively to complete tasks.

Atlas and P-body autism spectrum disorder

Portal 2, like Minecraft, is a highly popular console game that encourages experimentation and flexibility. Its cooperative play feature offers an opportunity for exercising communication and social skills, self-awareness, and self-control.

autism spectrum disorder

Draw Something 2
is a mobile game that utilizes device touchscreens, making it ideal for fine motor skill development. Similar to Pictionary, the game challenges players to draw terms, phrases, and references clearly so that their partners can answer correctly.

This article was written by

Randy Kulman, PhD, is the Founder and President of LearningWorks for Kids, an educational technology company that specializes in using video games to teach executive functioning and academic skills. For the past 25 years, Dr. Kulman has also been the Clinical Director and President of South County Child and Family Consultants, a multidisciplinary group of private practitioners that specializes in assessment and interventions for children with learning disorders and attention difficulties.