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mamadonna81's blog

8:00 PM on 06.28.2010

How gaming is helping my Autistic son

I am married to KyleGamee and we have 2 kids. Our oldest is Cadence who is 5, and she is unlike any 5 year-old you ever met. Just ask most of DtoidLA, but this isn't about her. This is about Andy who is going to be 3 in a couple of weeks.

This is Andy, isn't he an adorable boy?

Andy has been diagnosed with Autism Disorder. He is the sweetest little boy who lives in his own world a lot. He doesn't speak much, his communication skills are minimal (although with intensive daily therapies, he is getting better all the time), and he has only recently started to really engage with people. He is very sensory sensitive, meaning its difficult for him to process sounds, sights, and sensations normally. Andy has one escape that we can always resort to when he is overstimulated and getting ready to meltdown (meltdowns include lots of screaming, kicking, and throwing himself around): the iPod. It allows him to turn internally and focus on one thing: whatever game he happens to be playing.

Andy playing on the iPod. Once he gets it, good luck getting him to give it up.

This break for him and break from him for me has been crucial in our being able to live with Autism. While Andy is a milder case in terms of behavior issues, he is still young. The scream that he has developed, which is typical of children living with Autism, is something that could quite easily cause any human to snap. It is a sound of a particular pitch and resonance that goes directly to the brain stem and sends the message to make that noise stop at all costs. So being able to hand him the iPod and have him shut up immediately is such a HUGE relief.

For Andy, having the iPod is part of his Stereotypy or Stim as it is more often referred to. He has many behaviors that fall under the category as stim: he rolls his eyes back in his head, looks at objects from different angles, flicks his ear, walks past people or things while looking at them sidelong, and recently started pressing his face against things. In public this can be anything from embarrassing for us to downright dangerous for him. Handing him the iPod stops all that. It calms him when he is feeling uneasy (which is the primary function of stimming).

Aside from the self-involved iPod use, he also enjoys watching the rest of us play games on the 360, PS3, or Wii. He will cheer us on and engage with us as we attempt to complete a level in 'Splosion Man, Castle Crashers, Wall-E, Flower, Batman: AA, or whatever it is we are playing. It pulls him out of his world of Autism and allows him to connect with us, through excitement and anticipation. The smile on his face alone is worth all the money I spend on this stuff (yeah, we all enjoy it too).

The funny face he is making here is actually part of his Stim

I hold out a lot of hope for Andy's future, catching his Autism while he is so young and "treating" it early is crucial to success as an adult. The one thing I know he will always be able to do though, is game. No matter how minimal his communication skills end up being, no matter how odd or weird he may turn out to be as an adult, I know he can take solace in games. They will always be a source of joy, excitement, and fun. They can challenge him to grow and allow him a chance to relax. It will always be something we can do together, a way to relate, even if I have no idea what it is like to be a boy or man with Autism, I know how fun a game can be.

I truly look forward to watching my son grow as a person, and I know that gaming will always be a part of that growing experience. This, I am extremely grateful for.

4:18 PM on 07.10.2008

Modern Day Piracy

What does it mean to be a pirate in this day and age? What does one have to do? Evidently, today's pirates are more techno-savvy than their counterparts of old. Pirating today mean music, movies, and video games.
I know that there are still pirates out at sea too. They pillage and plunder the good old fashioned way (although I do think the violation of wenches has falling to the wayside, which frankly is a practice that could use some reviving). However, instead of stealing food, spices, and treasure, they now take electronics, military grade weapons, and well ok, they still take treasure.
But back to my techno-savvy pirates. We have begun to hangout more with the Dtoid LA crew "gamers", one of our new friends said to me, "I need to teach you guys how to pirate". That got me thinking, how do I feel about that?
On one hand, we spend plenty of money on all of the above mention media that is all way too over-priced and maybe pirating one or two things isn't so bad. On the other hand, its stealing which is always bad and two wrongs don't make a right.
Plus, if I start to pirate, I'll have to start wearing that eye patch thingy and talking weird, and that could be really uncomfortable for everyone. However, I could gain access to all sorts of electronic treasure which would be awesome since I don't have tons of money.
Maybe I'll compromise and just wear the sexy outfits, keep my pillaging in my bedroom and only play stuff that people send to me.
On a side note: Pirates and ninjas have been "enemies" for some time now. Although I have to say that Kyle and I try to unite the two worlds. Kyle leans more towards the ninja lifestyle, while I have always identified with pirates. Pirates are just sexier I think. There is that primal sort of appeal where they just take what they want. Ninjas just assassinate everything they come across, what fun is that?


1:02 PM on 05.27.2008

Its official when you see it on MSN...

This sucks. All I can do is hope for the best!   read

8:14 PM on 05.20.2008

Finally finished with Phantom Hourglass...

About 2 nights ago I finally finished Zelda: Phantom Hourglass for my DS. After playing most of the game everyday for a couple of weeks I came up against the last boss, Posessed Linebeck. And I got stuck. Could not for the life of me beat him.
Then I put it down and didn't pick it up again for a month or so. Then the other night, I got online to read a walkthrough because I was determined to beat this thing and could not figure out where I was going wrong. After reading the W/T 3 times it dawned on me what my mistake was. After attacking him you have to break your stalemate and at that point you attack him to knock Ceila loose. Like and idiot I have been trying to run behind him to knock her loose. And it sssooooo wasn't necessary. Just attack his front you idiot. I did that, lo and behold it worked. SO I finally beat the game. Talk about stupidity. But I am glad I beat it.
It was, by far, one of the most fun games I've ever played. I really liked it. Although it was strange that everyone kept calling Link by my name, Donna. Kinda unnerving. The sea travel was much faster than Windwaker, thank goodness. I am looking forward very much to the next Zelda.
However, this leaves me with only BrainAge and Mario Party for my DS. So I need a new game. Any suggestions? Or should I take to the forums for that?

P.S. I rock at the Rock Band Vocals. Who knew?   read

6:46 PM on 05.19.2008

Prince of Persia: The Movie

So they are making a Prince of Persia Movie. And rumor has it that someone wildly inappropriate has been cast as the Prince. Wanna know who? Jake Gyllenhaal. That's right. White boy, gay cowboy (*tear* Heath Ledger), Bubble Boy Jake Gyllenhaal. I have 3 words for anyone who thinks this is a good idea: ARE YOU CRAZY?
Ok, I am going to say this. He is a WHITE boy. The Prince of Persia is not. For anyone not in the know, Persia is now known as the Isalmic Republic of Iran. That's right, its Iran. Which would make the Prince of Persia middle eastern. Not white.
Now I don't know off hand of any Iranian actors, but I am sure they exist. Hell, visually someone from Bollywood would be a better match. (I am NOT comfusing the 2 cultures, I know they are worlds apart.)
But under no sun, on any earth, or in any dimension would Jake Gyllenhall be easy to confuse with someone from Iran. I have not ever played the games. But hubby is a huge fan, from all the way back to the original old school one. So I have watched him play and beat all the games. So I do have an opinion on casting of the movie.
Personally, if you are going to use someone who has a name, I would go with Kal Penn. Although I think this is a huge opportunity for an unknown. But please for the love of good movies, don't cast Jake Gyllenhaal. Remember, he was Bubble Boy.   read

12:11 PM on 05.13.2008

How motherhood is ruining my gaming.

I love my kids, I really do. They are adorable and so much fun to play with. But there are two of them and they are a lot of work. I don't get much time to play my games because of them. So here I am with a DS Lite nearby and I can't pick it up. Which sucks because I've been stuck on (meaning I haven't had the time to kill) the last boss for Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. It takes a lot of uninterrupted concentration and I can't give it that.

And then there is the other dilemma, which game do I play? I started playing Fable again awhile back in preparation for Fable 2 this year but, then I got Kyle Rock Band, so we've been busy touring the world. Which, by the way, is hard to do when you barely know the songs. But I'm learning so we'll keep on a-rocking. I just need to keep more beer in the house to ease my embarassment at slurring the words, because at least then I could blame the alcohol.

Then there is the times when Cadence (our 3 year-old, gotta start 'em young these days) wants to get in on the action so we bust out the Wii-Sports or Mario Party. Which inevitably results in her getting bored and walking away while Kyle and I play for awhile and then ask each other why are we playing this instead of the Halo 3 that we haven't touched in ages?

Andrew (who is 9 months-old) is completely useless when it comes to anything related to gaming. Try fighting off pirate ships or salvaging treasure from the bottom of the ocean with him beating on your little screen. Impossible. Although his enthusiaism in yelling at the different characters is promising.

So while I love my kids, I wish I had a little more time for other things as well. I wouldn't trade them for gaming, or anything else I enjoying doing without them, but maybe they could grow a little faster so they can play too.   read

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