Mum reveals how Pokemon Go changed her autistic son’s life – and she’s not alone

The new app is a 'miracle' for my autistic son, says mum Lenore Koppelman – and loads of other mums of children with special needs agree

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Predictably, there have been a few negative Pokémon Go stories since the app launched in the UK last week – you know, hand-wringing stuff about kids being too addicted to their phones and the worry that a child could potentially get run over as they try to catch ’em all.

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So we were very happy to hear about this lovely experience one mum’s had with the game. 

Lenore Koppelman’s son Ralphie has autism, and like many children on the spectrum, does not like a change in his routine, or indeed engaging with people he does not know.

Lenore heard about Pokémon Go from one of her mummy-pals who also has a child with autism – the other mum had told Lenore that her own child had seemed to have really engaged with the app and suggested Lenore show it to Ralphie.

What happened next is nothing short of amazing – as Lenore’s Facebook post testifies:

*Potential blub trigger: have your tissues ready!*

“Thanks to the suggestion of my fellow-autism-mama friend and fellow body painter Ren Allen, I finally introduced Ralphie to Pokemon Go tonight. She was right. This thing is AMAZING.

“After he caught his first one at the bakery, he was shrieking with excitement. He ran outside to catch more. A little boy saw him and recognized what he was doing. They immediately had something in common. 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.

“Then the little boy showed him how many HE had caught (over 100!) and Ralph said “WOWWWW!” and they high-fived. I almost cried. Then he saw his second Pokemon, sitting on Jenny Lando’s front step. He caught that one and was so excited he shrieked again and began to jump up and down. Then she came out and he chatted with her about it, too! Then she pointed out to him that there was a lot of Pokemon activity at the playground. He begged to go.

“He NEVER wants to go to the playground at night, because it’s out of his usual routine. He is normally SO RIGID about his routine. But tonight he was happy to change things up, and do it! We were in shock! And when we got there, other kids ran up to him to hunt for Pokemon together. He was interacting with other kids. Holy crap!!!! I didn’t know if I should laugh, or cry.

“Then he wanted to go find more, and we walked down 30th Ave. Adults were also hunting Pokemon, 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!!!!! 

“MY AUTISTIC CHILD IS SOCIALISING. 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.  

“Thank you Ren Allen, for suggesting this. You were right. And thank you Nintendo!!! ASD mama’s DREAM!!!!!!  I love you! 😀 ‪#‎PokemonGO‬ ‪#‎gottacatchemall‬”

And this isn’t a one-off tale of Pokémon Go positivity either – a quick trawl on Twitter reveals that lots of other parents are finding the app stimulating and engaging for their children with special needs.

One thrilled mum wrote: “It has helped my son as well. He did not leave house much for 3yrs, now he wants to go out everyday.”

Whilst another tweeted: “My autistic daughter has long been obsessed with Pokemon, this app has her feeling part of a crowd for first time ever.”

How lovely are these experiences? We are so happy for Lenore and Ralphie and all the other families who are having such a great time playing Pokémon Go right now.

And are you one of them? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter.

Pictures: Lenore Koppelman Facebook

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