Aspergers (ASD) and Yu-Gi-Oh?
June 19, 2006 5:47 AM   Subscribe

Aspergers Syndrome and Yu-Gi-Oh: What activities could fill-out popular Yu-Gi-Oh sessions to help build confidence and sociability in teenagers with Aspergers?

I help out in an after-school club for teenagers with Aspergers. Support for them while teenagers is fairly good - the problems often start when they leave us and enter the workplace.

The after-school club is really a couple of earnest adults supervising a variety of activities such as cooking and going to the cinema. The activity that the kids themselves love most however is a long and complex game of Yu-Gi-Oh. None of the adults have the faintest idea what these games involve - what skills are being used - or how the games work. Perhaps we should let things be, yet we have the feeling that we should be channelling this energy and committment (and money - the investment in these card sets is astonishing) into something 'more productive'.

Can you help us figure out what these 'more productive' activities could be ... or alternatively tell us to leave well alone? As a bonus, what exactly is going on in a game of Yu-Gi-Oh, why does it captivate them so and leave us adults so bewildered and cold?
posted by grahamwell to Human Relations (6 answers total)
I've never played Yu-Gi-Oh, but IMHO, the simplest idea is usually correct: It's like people playing competitive chess. They do it for the challenge, the thrill of winning (it's no different than winning a baseball game to these kids, trust me), and for the ability to exercise some muscle (brain muscle, that is). And, it most likely gives them a chance to socialize in a manner that is incredibly informal, since "regular" (ie: Sit at a bar and talk) socializing is more difficult for them. And, being Yu-Gi-Oh (or any other card game), the rules are complex enough and the game odd enough they can pretty much exclude anyone who doesn't have a strong penchant for that kind of thing.

But I'm not a psychologist. I'm just an adult that gets told over and over he's odd, has been accused by more than a few people of having ADD and probably Asperger's too (that one they can't name, they can just tell me I'm odd for sitting staring at the floor while everyone else is talking up a storm with new people, or never looking at people (especially faces)).

Wish there was a club like that when I was a kid... ho hum.
posted by shepd at 6:46 AM on June 19, 2006

i'd leave it alone. yu gi oh is a relatively simple card game--if anything, i'd see if they could move into something more complicated like magic.

you should balance your program to have both elements of social education--cooking, conflict resolution, etc. and part purely social. that's what your yu gi oh is accomplishing now. as much as i understand it, the game is nothing more then a glorified version of the card game 'war'.
posted by lester at 7:26 AM on June 19, 2006

For an understandable tutorial of Yu-Gi-Oh, check out the official site.
In terms of why adults seem to be bewildered with these types of card games and kids do not, I imagine it's to do with learning the rules and strategies of the game. Kids have more time (and allowance money, too) to learn how to play a new type of game. There are quite a few of these type of competitive card games out there, such as Magic the Gathering, a similar-but-different game which has been in existance since 1993. I know of a lot of adults who play this game, perhaps in part because they played it often as a kid.
I wouldn't be concerned with them playing Yu-Gi-Oh versus a more productive activity. While I'm sure it does teach certain skills (strategy, patience, determination), shepd is right - it's just a fun and easy (once you learn it) game to play.
posted by Meagan at 7:43 AM on June 19, 2006

(and money - the investment in these card sets is astonishing)

This is an important point. I've always found these types of card games (Magic: The Gathering, etc.) to be vaguely pernicious in that they require you to spend money in order to be better at the game. Maybe there's a game they'd find equally involving without simultaneously enriching Upper Deck Entertainment, and that they might eventually be able to play in other contexts. Bridge?
posted by staggernation at 7:49 AM on June 19, 2006

A lot of the allure of fast-paced card and computer games for Asperger's kids is threefold: 1) the pace of the game, which suppresses the usual necessary social interaction into the rules of the game, which are written down and easy to understand, 2) The adrenaline of the game, which acts as a focusing 'drug' on the brain, and 3) the sense of accomplishment that comes from winning.

If you can find a more educational activity that encompasses all three, you can see if it'll be adopted.

What cripples most aspie kids in the workplace is a combination of depression and anxiety. The depression, in my own case, led out of my anxiety over my performance with the inability to measure my performance against a feeling of accomplishment. Basically, since I work on such large projects on a day to day basis, it's hard to get a feeling of accomplishment out of building a piece of something new that is necessary, but isn't visible. I would've loved anything that would have trained me towards being able to overcome that need for the accomplishment feeling in my day to day life; at the moment, I get it from MMORPGs and keeping my house/lawn/car looking very nice.
posted by SpecialK at 9:20 AM on June 19, 2006

Perhaps you can have them create their own game? Maybe the adults could even follow a set of rules better if they saw them being created.

I know there is a flickr tool for creating the cards, and they could base it around existing games, perhaps clarifying certain points, adding new areas, etc.. You could have them print their own cards so that it would not be based on who has the most disposable income, rather who has the most strategy. If they object to throwing out the old cards you could incorporate them into he new game.
posted by Suparnova at 8:53 PM on June 19, 2006

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