Why Magic: The Gathering is a Good Game for Children With Autism by Jane Shearer

How Magic: The Gathering can help children - and adults! - with autism develop social, cognitive and creative skills.

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Narset Transcendent
Card art by Magali Villeneuve: Narset Transcendent, Magic's own autistic Planeswalker.

People with autism tend to be highly intelligent and creative, so finding a hobby that can help a child with autism develop and nurture these characteristics will significantly aid with their development. Many people with autism also have very curious minds with a keen eye and interest for detail.

Magic: The Gathering is a stimulating and entertaining strategy game. Playing this card game could help nurture an autistic child’s natural talents, as well as developing a range of other skills such as practicing social interactions and problem-solving abilities.

Improved problem-solving abilities

Magic The Gathering has been described as the most complex game in the world. It is a highly layered and textured game that can be engaged with on many levels of complexity. With a multi-layered and constantly changing gameplay, many players find their hobby develops into a serious interest – that can last a lifetime.

Immersing yourself in Magic has the potential to greatly improve problem-solving abilities. Studies show that people with autism are up to 40% faster at problem-solving than non-autistic people, so playing Magic could not only be a satisfying intellectual outlet for a child with autism, but in the long run may sharpen their problem solving abilities even more.

Learning to cope with unexpected scenarios

Coping with unexpected situations can be a common difficulty for children with autism. Both deck building and gameplay involve a series of rules and mechanics that can help players imagine and respond to a number of different gameplay scenarios, both expected and unexpected.

Social interaction

With an estimated 35 million players worldwide, there is a huge community of Magic: The Gathering players both online and in groups. Therefore, one of the biggest benefits that this game can offer to children with autism is the opportunity to socialise and make friends with a number of like-minded people. Over time, this could help a child with autism develop their interpersonal skills and their ability to relate to and empathise with others. Playing against physical opponents also allows players to practice social interactions under a structured (so potentially less intimidating) setting.

The benefits of art for children with autism: it could help inspire other creative endeavours

The fantasy world that Magic: The Gathering inhabits is a very attractive feature of the game for many players. The artwork and worldbuilding can really pique and enrichen the imagination and even inspire further creativity through other outlets.

Research shows that many autistic people tend to think in pictures, so the visual arts is particularly stimulating and complementary to the autistic mind. The artwork in the game could serve as a starting point to help your child get into drawing and sketching, painting or sculpture.

Nurturing the development of children with autism through Art Therapy

Art therapy is a popular intervention and form of therapy for people with autism that is used worldwide by health care professionals and art therapists to help autistic people, particularly children, with their emotional and social development.

It is thought to be a highly valuable form of therapy for children with autism as it provides an alternative to verbal communication, which can be a common difficulty for many autistic people. Creating art can help autistic children to express themselves, and to process the world in a way that they can relate to and understand.

Why Magic: The Gathering is a Good Game for Children With Autism
Why Magic: The Gathering is a Good Game for Children With Autism
How Magic: The Gathering can help children - and adults! - with autism develop social, cognitive and creative skills.
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