“Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” ~ Mr. Rodgers
On April 28th 2018, gamers all over the globe will come together to support individuals with autism for Path of Play Day, an annual gaming event that supports families living with autism and promotes play as a means for inclusion, empathy and acceptance. Mike Primeau, Path of Play’s founder, shares the history of the group, his personal story, and the group’s mission.
What was the catalyst that brought about Path of Play?
Path of Play stemmed from my own personal experience. In January 2017, my son Luke was diagnosed with autism. At the time of the diagnosis my wife and I felt a great deal of confusion and we didn’t really know how to go about this journey.
During the first few weeks I noticed two things. The first was that between the date of diagnosis and the first day of early intervention therapy (for parents who choose to go that route) is quite a gap. Yes, you spend a great deal of time talking with parents and learning a lot, but in terms of doing anything to help your child directly this was a noticeable absence. At the same time however, I was lucky to discover that my son was gravitating toward my own gaming interests. I began to wonder if it was possible to use pinball, board games and toy playing inside an environment that would be inclusive for families living with autism and allow kids to explore this environment in a free play style. I did some research and found a study that shows evidence of children on the spectrum becoming more socially connected when they are able to spend their time in this kind of surrounding. This was the beginning of our monthly game days for the Path of Play project.
In addition to monthly game days, what does Path of Play provide for the autistic community?
We distribute boardgames to autism therapy centers and to the homes of families that are living with autism. We have also recently started a program that provides non-verbal kids with a communication tool called LAMP (Language Acquisition through Motor Planning, an app through which an individual can communicate via a series of symbols). It is my hope that one day we can build our first facility that will run inclusive gaming initiatives full-time.
What is Path of Play Day?
Path of Play Day is a worldwide event that supports and recognizes individuals with autism. Through donations from players who join, their friends, and viewers of our social media campaign, Path of Play will raise money to support a number of goals, including:
*Provide 15 families with a $1,000 subsidy for early intervention support. *Issue 20 codes among families in need of a $400 communications app, for kids that are non-verbal.
*Distribute Haba board games into autism therapy centers and family homes. In addition, Path of Play will produce media to serve as educational content. This will allows us to assist recipients with using the games effectively.
*Secure our Family Game Day Project resources for future programs.
How can gamers get involved?
Gamers can register a group for as little as five dollars. There are four different reward levels and everyone can register under the team Path of Play, which can be selected during registration. Non-gaming friends can be encouraged to donate as well!
No matter where these gamers live they can gather their friends and on this day they can play along with us as we broadcast a live stream from Toronto. By using #PlayForAutism we’ll search for participants social media posts and display them in our production that day. Viewers will have a chance to play games like the Jack Box Party with us online and donate via the website. We’re looking forward to the stream!