Over the past week, we've heard a few things about how Pokémon Go has been working wonders for people’s mental health and physical fitness.
And now it’s being hailed as a wonder for kids with autism.
That’s the message this New York mum wants to get out there, and her Facebook account of the effect the game has had on her son Ralphie is heartwarming.
Thanks to a suggestion from a fellow mother, Lenore Koppelmon’s son was “shrieking with excitement” once he got his hands on the game.
Not only that, he started to really connect with other people – something he never really did before.
“This thing is AMAZING,” Lenore wrote on Facebook. “After he caught his first Pokémon at the bakery, he ran outside to catch more.”
When another little boy realised he was playing the game, they began to bond.
“He asked Ralphie how many he had caught. Ralph didn’t really answer him, other than to shriek ‘Pokemon’ and jump up and down with excitement while flapping his arms.”
When the little boy showed him how many he had caught (over 100), “Ralph said ‘Woww!’ and they high-fived.”
A normal thing for kids to do, but something Ralph had never done. Unsurprisingly then, mum Lenore was overwhelmed with emotion.
“I almost cried,” she wrote.
The positive effects of Pokémon didn’t end there.
When Lenore told Ralph that there were lots more Pokémon at their local park, Ralph couldn’t wait to go.
“He never wants to go to the playground at night, because it’s out of his usual routine,” she wrote. “He is normally SO RIGID about his routine. But tonight he was happy to change things up, and do it!”
Once they got to the park, Ralph was surrounded by other children, all there for the same purpose.
“Other kids ran up to him to hunt for Pokemon together,” she wrote. “He was interacting with other kids. Holy crap!! I didn’t know if I should laugh, or cry.”
Once he’d got all the Pokémon lurking in the park, Ralph wanted to find more, so they walked down a busy street – one which would normally have upset him. Not this time.
“Adults were also hunting Pokémon, and these total strangers were giving him advice like ‘there’s one right around this corner, buddy! Go get it!’ and he would run off laughing to get it. He would even look up at them and say ‘Thank you!’ and run off. WOW!!”
Lenore ended the post with touching words that highlight just how much this funny little game has done for her boy.
“My autistic child is socialising,” she wrote. “Talking to people. Smiling at people. Verbalising. Participating in pragmatic speech. With total strangers. Looking up at them. Sometimes even in the eye. Laughing with them. Sharing something in common. This is AMAZING.”
Then she thanked her friend for suggesting she downloaded the game, and Nintendo for making it.
“ASD mama’s DREAM! I love you.” Aww. Our eyes are welling up here. How touching that something as simple as a game can help autistic children to forge the connections they so often struggle to form.
You can read Lenore’s touching post in full below.