Don’t you love an unexpected benefit? You know, when a decision or a course of action has positive consequences that you didn’t intend or foresee. Like when you give in to the incessant requests of your children and buy a cat, only to discover that you no longer have to worry about birds eating your grass seed. Or when you switch to an own-brand pasta sauce to save a few pence each week, and find out it tastes better than what you used to buy.
We had our own unexpected benefit moment at BrainBox HQ recently. We’ve always set out to design games that combine learning and fun, and that can be enjoyed equally by families playing together or children playing alone. But we were delighted to discover that our games are also a big hit among children with learning differences such as dyslexia and autism.
It was customer reviews that gave it away initially. Here are a few of our favourites:
• “For our son with special needs… I think this will help enormously with his development”
Joy, Mummy blogger of children with Aspergers, reviewing BrainBox Dinosaurs
• “Fantastic and fun. My two children have dyslexia, and we play it to help their short-term memory”
Clare, reviewing BrainBox Dinosaurs on Amazon.co.uk
• “Excellent product for my son who has ADHD with autistic tendencies. He enjoyed the game and it also helped to calm him on some of the down time occasions over the holiday period”
Deirdre, reviewing Brainbox Football on Amazon.co.uk
• “The instructions were very clear and D especially enjoyed giving the cube shaker a good shake to start the game”
Jeannette, Mummy blogger of two autistic children, reviewing Square Up
• “It’s fairly simple and my 6 year-old can play it … it’s great as it’s very non-confrontational”
Daisy, posting about Qwirkle in an online forum discussing games for dyslexic children
• “This is a great game: almost as challenging as Scrabble but without the need to be able to read and write. If I hadn’t just left teaching, I would love to have tried it out with teenage dyslexic students”
Mrs Grace, reviewing Qwirkle on Amazon.co.uk
• “Both my children loved this game and great fun was had by all! I am still amazed that it kept Xaviers attention for the duration!”
Lucie, Mummy blogger of children with autism, reviewing Corner’d
Our suspicions were confirmed when Dyslexia Scotland highlighted BrainBox in a report called ‘Supporting Pupils with Dyslexia at Primary School’: “The games are simple, compulsive and great fun for one or more players.”
In her book The Autistic Spectrum: A Guide for Parents and Professionals, Lorna Wig says: “Children with autistic spectrum disorders tend to prefer toys that involve visuo-spatial skills such as shape and colour matching, jigsaw puzzles or constructional materials.”
We’re not quite sure what the magic ingredient in BrainBox games is. Maybe it’s the vibrant colours, or the tactile elements, or the emphasis on visual and memory skills.
Whatever the reason, we’re very pleased that our games are making learning fun for so many children and families – and perhaps you might just find some unexpected benefits when you come to play them.