How a Rhythm-Based Music Game is Teaching Students Essential Social Skills
One of the biggest challenges in educating students diagnosed with autism is encouraging them to try new things and explore new ways to engage with the world. At the Sarah Dooley Center for Autism (SDCA), we focus on utilizing their ‘affinities’ (things they like to do) not only to improve their communication skills, but also to feel comfortable in a wide range of environments and social situations. To accomplish this, we encourage our teachers to engage with their students in novel ways.
One of our amazing teachers, John Bellows, recently introduced a new activity to his classroom with terrific results. John and his team started using the rhythm-based Nintendo Wii game ‘Just Dance’ to get students up and moving, use social skills, and conquer anxiety through the universal language of music. As they play, students also work with their classmates on friendship building and, most importantly, having fun.
Students attend SDCA for a wide range of reasons, including language and social skills challenges, but also because they have difficulty with transitions, following classroom directions, and learning through observation. John’s creative use of a fun, experiential activity helps his students in all of these instances. It has even helped with morning transportation, as his students are excited about getting to school and
spending the day with John and his team.
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of working alongside students with autism, you would know that patience and passion for what you do are key attributes for our educators. But the secret sauce is being creative and constantly coming up with new ways to engage and excite these kids. We’re lucky to have such a committed and creative staff here at SDCA!