Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that affects between 1% and 2% of the U.S. population.1 ASD symptoms and behaviors vary, though symptom sets typically include communication impairments, social interaction challenges, and restricted and repetitive patterns of interests and behaviors. If you think that your child may have ASD, it is important to connect with medical professionals for diagnosis and treatment.
At Mightier, we do not collect diagnosis information about children, although families sometimes share symptom information. Through this data, we can see that many children with ASD-related challenges find success with Mightier.
Does Mightier help kids with ASD?
Yes. We have heard from parents that Mightier is helping children manage some of their ASD symptoms. The ASD symptoms that children and teens commonly experience increase their risks for aggressive behaviors and outbursts.2 In 2019 over three-quarters of Mightier parents whose children experienced aggressive behaviors and outbursts reported that their children experienced global improvements in emotional regulation after playing Mightier for at least 4 weeks.
Parents whose children have ASD tell us that Mightier has helped their children find helpful ways to talk about emotions and behaviors with their parents, and that since they started playing Mightier their children are more receptive to parent encouragement to use calming strategies when they are stressed. Parents see their Mightier players who have ASD taking deep breaths during Mightier play and away from Mightier play, becoming more effective in their deep breathing, and improving their real life emotional control — parents are seeing fewer outbursts and less intense behaviors when they are dysregulated.
Do kids with ASD use Mightier?
Yes. We know many kids with ASD who have used Mightier. In 2019, Mightier parents let us know about their children’s ASD diagnoses in player surveys, coaching calls, and the Mightier Parents Facebook group.
Two common symptoms experienced by children with ASD are aggressive behaviors and outbursts. Of approximately 11,000 players who joined Mightier in 2019, nearly 4 out of every 5 had parents who reported that they struggled with aggressive behaviors or outbursts — so we know that many children who experience these symptoms that are common to ASD have used Mightier.
Will my child with ASD be willing to play Mightier?
Parents are sometimes concerned that their children’s ASD may make it difficult for them to engage with Mightier, perhaps because they have seen their children resist new activities, or because of the focus on heart rate challenge in the Mightier app and the focus on emotional skill-building in the Mightier program. We have not seen this to be a problem for Mightier players. Though we have seen that some Mightier players with ASD have needed a bit of time to get familiar with Mightier and to adjust to the addition of Mightier to their weekly routine, many parents of Mightier players with ASD have told us that their children enjoy Mightier games.
How do I help my child with ASD get the most out of Mightier?
We have found that talking about Mightier and making connections between Mightier and real-world situations are two ways that parents can help their kids get the most out of Mightier. For parents of kids who experience ASD-related challenges, this would include conversations about how our heart rate increases when we are feeling big emotions. Many parents have found it helpful to talk with their children about how Mightier helps us lower our heart rate using deep breathing and other calming skills, which gives us space away from our big emotions and time to think about what we want to do next.
Parents of Mightier players who struggle with ASD have found it helpful to find a shared language with their children that allows them to identify and talk about moments of frustration or other intense emotions. When families have this shared language, they often find they are able to identify strategies and tools that children can use in moments of dysregulation, which helps children become more confident in their ability to manage big emotions.
Baio J, Wiggins L, Christensen DL, et al. Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder Among Children Aged 8 Years — Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 11 Sites, United States, 2014. MMWR Surveill Summ 2018; 67(No. SS-6):1–23. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/ss/ss6706a1.htm
Fitzpatrick, S. E., Srivorakiat, L., Wink, L. K., Pedapati, E. V., & Erickson, C. A. (2016). Aggression in autism spectrum disorder: presentation and treatment options. Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment, 12, 1525–1538. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4922773/