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Their Voice: The autism community and video game addictions

July 15, 2018

Monica Villar

There seems to be some varying opinions in the clinical world about whether excessive playing of video games can lead to addiction.

In an article entitled: “Sense and Nonsense About Video Game Addiction,” in the March 11 Psychology Today, Peter Gray, PhD, states, “Research shows that the great majority of video gamers, including those who are heavily immersed in games and spend large amounts of time at them, are at least as healthy psychologically, socially and physically as non-gamers.”

Later in his article, however, he does indicate that individuals who are more likely to become addicted have several common factors, including “being more anxious and depressed, indicated poorer impulse control and cognitive functioning.”

A study quoted by Daniel Loton and his colleagues in 2016 “found that gaming addiction was most likely to occur in people who were depressed or in other ways stressed and who had an avoidant rather than approach method of coping. In other words,” he continued, “they were people who dealt with life problems by trying to avoid them rather than by trying to confront and solve them.”

A study entitled “Pathological game use in adults with and without Autism Spectrum Disorder” concluded “Adults with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder” may be at risk for pathological game use. ... Clinicians should consider assessing these potential problems in clients. It may be important to consider the potential impact of video game use on emotional, behavioral, and social outcomes among adults with ASD.

Marty Matheson, Executive Director at ScenicView Academy, puts it much simpler, “Some people with physical, mental or developmental disabilities turn to excessive gaming as a way to numb their pain, loneliness or boredom.”

He continues, “Some with disabilities experience a lack of social support and may turn to excessive gaming as a way to cope.” Matheson concludes by stating, “Usually when gaming impacts a person’s quality of life and level of functioning, it is time for intervention.”

It is with those individuals in mind that ScenicView Academy, in conjunction with TelosU, is sponsoring a training on gaming addiction. In our training, we hope to provide the knowledge and resources to help people understand the impact of gaming and how to better control it. The training is primarily for human service professionals and parents — those people who are trying to help individuals struggling with gaming addiction.

The training will be held from 9 a.m. to noon, Aug. 3, at ScenicView Academy, located at 5455 N. 250 West in Provo. There is a minimal fee to attend and group discounts available. Cost of training also includes lunch and 3 CEU’s. The cost to attend will increase on July 20. Registration is available at www.svacademy.org/trainings

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