USA Today coverage, nice:
In real life, 9-year-old Michael has autism, as do his two classmates. All three have long struggled with the mental, physical and social rigors of school. All three now get help most days from video-game avatars — simplified digital versions of themselves doing things most autistic children don’t generally do. In Michael’s case, he’s recording “social stories” videos that remind him how to act. In his classmates’ cases — their parents asked that they not be identified — they’re playing games that help with coordination, body awareness and cooperation, all challenges for kids on the autism spectrum.
Can off-the-shelf video games spark a breakthrough in treating autism? That’s the question researchers are asking as educators quietly discover the therapeutic uses of motion-controlled sensors. The devices are popular with gamers: Microsoft this week said it had sold more than 19 million Kinect motion-sensor units since introducing it in November 2010.
Now autism researchers, teachers and therapists are installing them in classrooms and clinics, reporting promising results for a fraction of the price of typical equipment. Could a teacher armed with a $300 Xbox and a $10 copy of Double Fine Happy Action Theater do as much good as months of intensive therapy?