How Pokémon Go has changed one autistic boy's life

For Ralphie, catching Pikachus, Bulbasaurs and Charmanders isn't just fun—it's a way of breaking out of his shell.

Photo courtesy of Lenore
Photo courtesy of Lenore Koppelman

As the Pokémon Go craze is spreading to all parts of the world, people are reporting that playing the game has benefitted them in lots of ways (getting active, being social, exploring new areas.). But this is especially true for one New York City mom whose six-year-old boy’s life has completely changed since he started playing Pokémon Go.

Lenore Koppelman’s son, Ralphie has autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) and hyperlexia. He doesn’t do well in social settings, struggles to hold a conversation, doesn’t like changes in his routine and doesn’t make eye contact with strangers. However, since downloading Pokémon Go he has started laughing, going out to parks and even sharing high-fives with other kids.

“ASD [Autism Spectrum Disorder] mama’s DREAM!!!!!!” Koppelman wrote on Facebook.

Photo courtesy of Lenore Koppelman
Photo courtesy of Lenore Koppelman

Though skeptical of the game at first, Lenore finally downloaded it after a friend said it helped her autistic son become more social and flexible. That night Ralphie asked his mom if they could head to the playground to catch Pokémon—something he would never ask to do as playgrounds make him anxious. Now he’s willingly joining other kids at the park hunting for Pokémon. And he’s really coming out of his shell!

After sharing their story online, the Koppelmans found that many other families with ASD kids were seeing the same benefits. While Pokémon Go has greatly changed little Ralphie’s life as of late, his mom is trying to show him that he doesn’t need the game to continue to do all of these great things.

Go catch ’em all, Ralphie!

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