The popular Wii video gaming system has revolutionized how video games are played, but did you know that it also has a valuable place for special needs children?
More and more special education educators are finding that the implementation of “Wii Therapy” enables special needs children to break down barriers and develop skills they might not otherwise be able to learn. For example,Taleiah Larkin, a teacher at Harry E. Blair Learning Center in Bakersfield, California, was awarded grant money to purchase the Wii system and is providing 45 students with severe disabilities the opportunity to participate in physical education activities. Read more
Many children with special needs cannot hold a volleyball or a racket in their hands, but they are able to hold the Wii remote. And even those who need help using their arms and legs can hit a baseball or roll a bowling ball by swinging the remote with assistance.
As a result, many special needs children are experiencing for the first time what it is like to play a video game and be involved in physical education activities. They are learning in “virtual PE classes” how it feels to be part of a team, bond with their teammates, and cheer each other on. Other skills can also be integrated while using the Wii, such as having students count the number of pins knocked down in a bowling game or identifying colors and shapes.
The Wii can be used with special needs children to:
- encourage those with physical disabilities to move, providing much-needed circulation to their limbs
- enable children to take part in virtual sports such as baseball, bowling, volleyball, golf and tennis
- aid children in gaining balance and coordination through virtual dance programs
- increase/develop the ability to concentrate for a long period of time
- motivate children to achieve goals
- help with problem-solving, reasoning, and communication skills
Adapted controllers that attach to a hat or the forearm and do not require grasp or finger dexterity can be purchased for special needs children using the Wii. Other upgrades are also available, such as bite or eyebrow switches, which are activated by raising your eyebrows or biting.
Click here for more information on adapters.
Photo by Stéfan