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Monday, August 5, 2013

Explaining Kansas and Games

A study by The Thompson Center came out last week proclaiming that those with "ADHD and ASD are more prone to overuse videogames."

I begin with that study because it is once again time to explain my Kansas concept. Besides a boring state to drive through (my apologies to anyone in Kansas, but I-70 through there has to be the most boring drive anywhere) it is part of the title of my book Finding Kansas. In the book there is little reference to the actual state but rather it is a concept to explain the aspect of the autism spectrum of, "a person on the autism spectrum with have an area of interest or activity that they will want to do or talk about to the exclusion of everything else."

So think of it this way; what if you were paralyzed in every state except Kansas? If that were the case where would you want to live? In my presentation I have a state that is the anti-Kansas but as to not offend anyone, should that state actually exist, I will omit it, but yes think about that. In Kansas everything makes sense but outside the state nothing makes sense, everything is overwhelming, and what is easy for everyone else is simply too difficult to do. With all that I once again ask, where would you live?

For those on the autism spectrum Kansas is that area of interest or knowledge that we will perseverate on something all day and getting outside of that area of interest can prove to be difficult. And obviously, using my metaphor, you can see why.

Often times Kansas will be something factual because within facts we are talking about something that is right or wrong, black or white with no middle ground or grey area and it is within the grey area of life that processing takes place and processing for us on the spectrum can take a bit longer, and can create a high does of anxiety, therefore processing is bad. However, within Kansas, all is known. If I know all the facts about something and I know all the rules then we are taking the processing element of life and tossing it aside.

Now, going back to that study and games, the question probably is, "why games?" I'm going to blog more on this tomorrow in regards to video games and the evolution of them but within games there are rules and within rules everything is known. Think about that, within rules everything is known because all the boundaries of life are set. When playing Monopoly there is nothing you can do on your first roll that will create a game over situation. In life this can happen in terms of relationships, friendships, and jobs.When playing a game there is order to the madness of life. When playing a board game the order of play is dictated by the rules and play proceeds clockwise. This makes sense! There is a logic to the madness.

With many games there's a defined beginning and end. I'll talk more about this tomorrow as I write about video games and the way they've changed over the past 30 years, but in many games there's a defined beginning and a defined end. Again, this makes sense and just knowing this is something that alleviates so much stress and anxiety. Think about a social situation. What is the defined beginning of it? Is it a hello? Is it when someone asks something personal? And here's an even deeper question, when is the end? I still have no idea what the answer to this is. And I'm sure, autism spectrum or not, many people struggle with this as I don't think there's anything more awkward than a conversation coming to an end. You know, that awkward time when one person wants to walk away but they're unsure if the conversation is over? Yeah, that's awful but this is even worse for us on the autism spectrum because we have a harder time, as it's a non-Kansas moment, to understand this dynamic. In a game, however, there is a defined end whether it's a time limit, or if there's just one player left, but regardless the method there is a set in stone hard line of when it is over.

For many of us on the autism spectrum games are a major Kansas because "within rules everything is known." Within rules I can operate. I know the boundaries, I know the beginning, I know the end, and I can operate more on an even level because my mind isn't analyzing everything at once and trying to figure out the rules of the current situation.

Today's blog is the first of two and tomorrow I cover the video game aspect and the reasons as to why I believe it is such a Kansas for so many people.

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