What a Concept!
A racecar driver's gizmo reimagined for kids
The Inspiration: Marc Sickel runs a children's gym where he sees a lot of Nintendo-induced hypnosis. "Parents can't drag their kids away from video games," says the founder of Fitness for Health in Rockville, Maryland. "I thought there had to be a way to tap into that obsession"—especially if it could help children with special needs. Sickel reached out to the makers of a machine used to sharpen the reaction time of Formula One racecar drivers and adapted the device as an interactive game for kids with autism and attention disorders. Standing in front of a wall of flashing disks, gamers reach up, down, and across their bodies to shut off the lights in quick succession. "The machine aims to help kids become better visual planners," says Lance Clawson, MD, a psychiatrist who specializes in children with autism and ADHD. "They learn how to scan their environment—focusing on information they need and filtering out what they don't—and decide how to respond. So when, for example, someone reaches out to shake hands, the kid can figure out what to do."
—Jessica Stockton Clancy