Jonathan a fast technologist who hacks the network

Jonathan The Fast technologist Who hacks the network20170617

Ezra, 14

Table-top Role Playing Games

For many with disabilities, such as ASD, social interaction can be difficult and stressful. For some social interactions are avoided, and this behaviour is mistaken for the person not wanting social interaction. This is a misconception, often the barrier can be the stress related to social interaction, and the lack of social skills.

There are different social skills programs that teach people on the spectrum the language of social interaction. While Gaming on the Spectrum uses the themes and principles of social skills programs, it is not the focus of the group. The focus is around having a positive experience in our social interactions, and building a social group that is inclusive and understanding. The role playing aspect of the game has the players interacting in a cooperative way with the other players, and other characters in the game.

Over the term of the group the participants will take part in a fictional campaign. Each player will create a character that they move through the adventure, making decisions and interacting with the world within the game. The game incorporates social situations, negotiating, problem solving, and combat with the fictional creatures of the game, which the group cooperatively take part in.

As the popularity of TPRGs rise studies are being conducted on the many benefits of the games. In Tsui-shan Chung's study 'Table-top role playing game and creativity' it was found people who play TRPGs had higher divergent thinking (creativity) scores than non-gamers and video game players.

Sarah Lynne Bowman lists in her book 'The functions of Role Playing Games' the three main benefits of TPRG. "First, role-playing enhances a group's sense of communal cohesiveness by providing enactment within a ritual framework. Second, role-playing encourages complex problem solving and provides participants with the opportunity to learn an extensive array of skills through the enactment of scenarios. Third, role-playing offers participants a safe space to enact alternate personas through a process known as identity alteration."

Organizer

My name is Jonathon Smith, I have been playing table-top role playing games since my early teens. I am an aerospace telecommunications and information systems technician for the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), and have served for 18 years. The CAF encourages its members to be proud members and participants in their communities and has been very supportive of the volunteer work I have been a part of. I have volunteered with organizations such as Children's Aid Society, Autism Ontario, Parents Lending Autistic Youth Support (PLAYS), and Can-do Theatre.

I am the father of three sons, two of whom are on the spectrum. Over the past ten years I have participated in numerous workshops and programs, primarily to help me better understand my sons needs. I have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), which I see as a positive aspect of who I am. Two years ago I took the PEERS facilitator training and have been a coach for PEERS courses in the Durham region.

Acknowledgements

While posted in North Bay I participated with Can-do Theatre, a group dedicated to a positive and inclusive theatre experience for kids of all capabilities. Michelle Webster the organizer of the program is an amazing woman and when I moved to the Durham region I wanted to run a program that provided the same type of benefits Can-do provides. I do not have the theatre background that Michelle has and I would not be able to emulate her program. This past march I went to the Breakout Gaming convention in Toronto where I met Daniel Kwan. He is a doctoral student, and curator at the ROM who runs D&D games for kids at the ROM. It was when he started talking about running games for adults with autism that I was inspired to start a group in the Durham region.

I would also like to thank Tiffany MacDonald at Autism Ontario Durham for helping get this program started.