The Upside of Playing Pokemon Go as a Person on the Autism Spectrum


I’ve never been a fan of Pokemon. I had one card when I was in elementary school (And for those who are wondering, it was only Diglett, which was given to me as a throwaway card.) I have always felt it was a bit weird and confusing. And to some extent, it still is a bit confusing to me.

But then suddenly, there was a lot of hype about a new app called Pokemon Go. It was all I saw on social media. I was really curious to see why it was so popular. So one night, when I was a bit bored, I decided to download it.

I guess I’d call myself a fan now. Of course, I heed the warnings and watch where I’m walking. And I never catch Pokemon while I’m driving. I really don’t like how the game has me so obsessed so much that I can barely focus on everyday life. But there has been a major upside to playing the game.

Not only have I gotten more physical exercise from walking around everywhere, but I’ve found a way to get past the social anxiety and social skill deficits I have as someone on the autism spectrum. I’m talking to people I would otherwise not know how to strike up a conversation with. Instead of smiling nervously and then simply continuing on, I’m finding the courage to speak up and say “Hey, have you found Pikachu yet?”

And while the game’s popularity will probably die down and my everyday life will eventually settle into my old routine, I’m hoping I’ve learned something from this experience. I’m hoping I’ve learned a few ways to meet new people. I may never find Pikachu. But perhaps the game will help me find a new human friend.

What’s a part of your condition you live with every day that others might not see? Explain what that experience feels like. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

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