One of the many questions asked by all of those tests and doctors regarding Asperger’s Syndrome focuses on “clumsiness.”
For example: Does he or she tend to get completely immersed in a particular topic? How about eccentric behavior? Social skill challenges? Fine motor skills, like handwriting? Oh, and does he/she seem awkward or clumsy?
Often fine motor skills and balance (that’s the awkward/clumsy bit) go along with the Asperger’s Syndrome package. We tend to see this in the form of poor handwriting and physical awkwardnes or clumsiness.
Clumsy sounds negative and judgmental, though, doesn’t it? I much prefer balance issues. And, um, yes, I am overweight, not fat. My dishwater, mousy hair is actually ash brown. And okay, I think rude people are usually just socially challenged. A spade is never a spade – it’s just a club with a sense of humor. Anyway, back to balance…
So, given that balance can be an area of concern, what can be done?
Well, we struggled with that one for a while. First, we went to occupational therapy, which was great but expensive (insurance issues, long story, you can probably guess how it ends). We played lots of games at home.
But I wanted more.
Around this time, my parents purchased a Wii. When it first came out, the Wii was very popular with seniors and children, the people-in-the-middle being snobbish and addicted to pretty graphics and online games. But my folks went ahead and gave it a try.
Wii Fit, Wii Fit Plus, and Marble Saga (one of the games using their balance board) are great for working on balance. Plus, they’re fun and easy to use. Finally, they’re video games. What child doesn’t love video games?
These games really do work on balance, too… it’s not just advertising.
In the games, the player stands on a board (see above), which measures how that person is standing, leaning, whatever. The game responds to small changes in body posture, so that, for example, a tightrope walker can lean dangerously far in one direction as the person leans too far in the same direction. And then correct himself – whew, without falling – as the person adjusts.
We’ve had our Wii now for about two years. And we love it.
Granted, there are other games for the Wii that may not be so desirable. Games that are noisy, flashy, and, well, more game-ish and less about balance.
So we have an arrangement with our son. If he does fifteen minutes of Wii Fit – yes, they track the minutes for you – then he can play any game he wants to.
I’ll be honest: the Wii is not cheap. However, the games are getting cheaper with age, and are more available now than previously (we had to wait a while before Wii Fit was even available locally).
However, as far as game consoles go, that was probably the best money we ever spent. And yes, I have my parents to thank for it all.