A series of free online computer games designed for children with autism has been created by a group of final year multimedia students from Swinburne University, in collaboration with Bulleen Heights Autism School and the National eTherapy Centre.
WhizKid Games is an online portal that aims to help autistic children develop their independent living skills, focusing on areas such as coping with change, recognising emotions and non-verbal communication.
It includes 16 therapeutic games themed around everyday activities such as getting dressed, going to school and following a schedule.
In developing WhizKid Games, students were given expert advice by researchers from the Swinburne Autism Bio-Research Initiative (SABRI) and teachers from Bulleen Heights Autism School. According to SABRI director, Associate Professor David Austin, the games will provide a real benefit for children with moderate to severe autism.
"Autistic children can be difficult to engage in traditional educational settings, but most autistic children are very happy to work with a computer. The idea is to capitalise on that and have autism-specific computer-based activities that work for them in building their skills," he said.
In addition to the WhizKid portal, the Swinburne students created an accompanying site for parents and teachers of autistic children.
"This portal allows parents and teachers to learn more about the theory behind each game, and how the goals of the games can be supported at home and in school environments," Austin said.
WhizKid Games, which was created by 80 final year multimedia design students, represents over 16,000 hours of research and development. The site was officially launched last week by the CEO of Autism Victoria, Murray Dawson Smith.