Nintendo Switch and its game ‘Ring Fit’ become allies for children with autism

In the United States, researchers from the University of Delaware explore how the ‘Ring Fit’ of Nintendo Switch as a valuable tool to improve the flexibility and motor skills of children with autism.

In their laboratories, they conduct tests using the ‘Ring Fit Adventure’ game accessory as a motivational strategy to encourage young people to exercise.

Anjana Bhat, the lead researcher at the Move 2 Learn lab, conceived the project based on the realization that not only do children have an affinity for video games, but also recognizing that certain games can positively impact neurodivergent people.

Gaming has been beneficial for autistic children – Photo: University of Delaware/YouTube/Reproduction

In the research, laboratory participants observe children’s engagement not only with ‘Ring Fit Adventure’, but also with other games that incorporate motion sensors, such as ‘Nintendo Switch Sports’.

In sessions, activities such as tennis, volleyball, badminton, golf, sword fighting and bowling are used to promote the development of movements in the upper body.

At the same time, football matches are aimed at improving the lower extremities.

The physiotherapy professor highlights, in a video published on YouTube (which you can watch below), that there is numerous evidence indicating that video games that incorporate exercise accessories have beneficial impacts on cognition, social interactions and overall levels of physical activity.

Exercise games are not covered much in research with autistic children

Furthermore, the teacher highlights that children with autism generally show an interest in technology, such as computers and robots.

However, to date, there have been no studies addressing the benefits and possible repercussions of incorporating games with motion sensors into the daily lives of these young people.

“The technologies tested and studied in children with autism act mainly on sedentary functions and aim to improve executive function and decision-making, but are not necessarily exercise games. Video games appear in research with older populations and healthy children, but not so much in children with autism, so this study is unique. I’ve never seen anything catch their attention so much. Overall, the tool is much more engaging than anything we’ve used before. Music, movement, yoga, general exercise, and outdoor play don’t always work for every child. Through exercise games and the variety of content out there, most kids stay engaged, and that’s what’s so unusual about this intervention, compared to previous ones”, explains the professor and scientist.

Anjana also highlights that the abundance of exercise games available keeps children with autism motivated, so they always return to participate in new video game sessions.

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Beyond video games, technology plays a significant role in diagnosing and treating people with autism.

One example is the SenseToKnow app, which demonstrates an accuracy of up to 88% in detecting autism, proving to be safer than conventional questionnaires.