The Contribution of Game-based learning: Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Dyscalculia


  • Vera Pradiante ULHT



Special Education, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Dyscalculia, Children, Game-based learning


This paper explores the potential of games to mathematics learning and promotion of global
psychomotricity, relational/social skills in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and/or Dyscalculia students of Basic Education in Portugal. Inspired by Space Adventure: Defend the Planet! (SADP), an educational research-based game to children's primary mathematics’ learning [PTDC/COM-CSS/32022/2017], a game-based intervention was created to psychomotricity sessions at school facilities. The study was conducted by the researcher, Superior Technician of SEN and Rehabilitation. A mixed method approach is used to research: what impact does the intervention have on participants' motivation, engagement, learning of mathematics and development of participants? Five schools in Portugal participated in the study, between December 2021 and March 2022, with 12 sessions, one session/week, 45 minutes. The sample: 19 participants: 12 boys, 9 with ASD and 3 with Dyscalculia; 7 girls, 2 with ASD and 5 with Dyscalculia. The average age is M=8.6 with SD=1.8. Prior to the intervention, the following instruments were applied: pre-tests of math skills, communication and social interaction, receptive and expressive language; Childhood Autism Rating
Scale; a Battery Movement Assessment Battery for Children; questionnaire Technologies/Video Games and Questionnaire of Support Measures for Learning and Inclusion. During the intervention, an observation grid and alternative communication materials were used per session. A PC, the SADP, gymnasium/relaxation room with a chair, table and gym supplies. From the results, computers, tablets, and mobile phones are the most frequently used by children. GRID/ABC Autism, Bini ABC/Human Body, and Minecraft/Troll are video games often played by participants. One girl aged 12 explained to the researcher how to create worlds on Minecraft, which is an indicator that “good” video games could be beneficial for ASD. “I feel free to explore my imagination!”- she said. Most children expressed rich verbalizations about SADP:  “I love it”, “This game is interesting”. As preliminary results children were motivated, participative, engaged with learning math, and able to co-create motor activities inspired by SADP challenges. The data analysis of the present study is in progress and will be presented.