In a story from ABC, a business based in Canberra, Australia – Dice 4 Diversity – is a “social inclusion role-play business” that aims to help kids with diverse social needs to make friends and improve their social skills through the power of tabletop roleplaying games.
Ian Bennett, a native of the Australian capitol, started the company after exhausting several other options with his own children who have diverse special needs. He told ABC that they “fought the health system for appropriate treatment” and “sought out-of-the-box solutions when no progress was made with mainstream therapy”.
Bennett runs a modified version of D&D with kids like George Blyth, who is a 12-year old child from Canberra with Autism. They play on a weekly basis, and Bennett reported marked improvements in his social skills and confidence by stepping out of his normal shoes, and into those of a fictional character of George’s own design.
“If you’re a 12-year-old boy and you have problems with socialisation, you can be a 200-year-old elf, and they don’t have problems with socialisation.”
“Normally they wouldn’t have social interactions with shop keepers or tavern owners. I saw their conversation improving.”
“[D&D is] really going to help him later in life. He’s now able to see where the fork is in the road and which path to take.”Ian Bennett, “Canberra Dungeons and Dragons business helping children with autism improve their social skills and make friends” – ABC News Australia
D&D is an incredible game. As someone who’s played every Monday for over six years now with the same group of guys, it’s truly bigger than just a game with funny-looking dice.
Dungeons & Dragons (and games like it) is an incredible vehicle to get out of one’s shell. Understanding consequences, the impacts of one’s choices, the power of collaboration, and the importance of understanding diverse points of view all become readily apparent around the table – whether those were things you were great at perceiving already or not.
To see guys like Ian Bennett using one of my favorite pastimes to do so much good is truly heartwarming, and I hope more businesses follow suit. I’ve read plenty of stories in the past of individuals using roleplaying games to help prison inmates relate to one another, and to help kids socialize – and this is just another piece of evidence of how much good gaming can do.