An element within my game was to use the game to help with the diagnosis of autism within children. The first thing that I felt to research was what actually is autism? why is it an issue? and how do we find out if ourselves or an individual could have it?
Autism.org.uk defines autism as;
‘Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people. It also affects how they make sense of the world around them.’
So basically people with autism see the world through a different lens and act accordingly to their own world. For example they may have a unique way of communicating or they may respond very differently to a situation then what an individual who didn’t have autism would.
Autism can be a struggle for both the individual who has it but also the people around the individual. People with autism find it difficult to imitate hence why development can be slow in these particular individuals so because of this they may not connect with other children. An example of this in the real world could be a child feeling secluded because they can not partake in an activity that other children of that age may be finding easy and enjoyable. This could advance further as the child sometimes may act out due to not being able to fully understand the situation and could respond in a negative way which could involve anything from physical or verbal abuse to other individuals to being distant or depressed. which would cause concern.
I was researching into how children are diagnosed professionally and I discovered that they can take a test known as CHAT when they are at 18 months to help the parents to see if their child does indeed have autism. CHAT stands for ‘the Checklist for Autism in Toddlers’ and the test itself is designed to help identify which children are at risk of social-communication disorders. The test itself consists of two sections;
It consists of two sections: the first nine items are questions asked to the parents, and the last five items are observations made by the primary health care worker. The key items look at behaviours which, if absent at 18 months, put a child at risk for a social-communication disorder. These behaviours are (a) joint attention, including pointing to show and gaze-monitoring (eg looking to where a parent is pointing), and (b) pretend play (eg pretending to pour tea from a toy teapot).
Depending on how the child scores on the test will vary if the child is at high or low risk developing a disorder such as autism.
Also, there are little tests online that an individual can take to give a individual an idea to if they should get tested properly for autism. This particular test (here) I was looking into was created by a psychologist and his colleagues at the Cambridge’s autism research centre. The average score of was 16.4 and those who had autism scored around 32 or higher. I was interested in the test so I decided to take this test myself and here are my results;
‘Agree: 2,5,12,13,22,39,42,43,45,46: 1 point
Disagree: 1,10,24,32: 1 point
Once I have looked into the finer details of how a child is diagnosed and how these are put into testing conditions I will try to implement features of this within my game so that anything that could trigger a response to show if a child has autism then my game will help that individual to becoming properly diagnosed. I am unsure to how far I will be able to push this but if I can even implement small bits then it will be worth it as it would not only make my final product a game, but it will make it a tool to help educators and parents become aware that their child may be living with an undiagnosed condition.