Linda’s Prowess at Ten Pin Bowling on the Nintendo Wii

We bought Linda a a while back.

Williams Syndrome is often described as a condition presenting many mountains and valleys in terms of the performance or abilities of affected individuals. Many people affected are apparently able or talented verbally and yet limited in other abilities. One of these contrasting deficits is in motor control and co- ordination. This contrast is one of the major interests for researchers and sources of frustrations for parents and carers.

Linda is no exception to this. As an adult, she still has the greatest of difficulties tying her shoelaces, catching a ball or pouring a drink. As she is spending more time with us now we’ve made special efforts to give her opportunities for play that will also develop her physical skills.

One recent purchase was a.

We wondered whether Linda would be interested in playing any of the games in the Wii Sports package and went through them with her.

It wasn’t long before we discovered that she wasn’t in the least bit interested in playing with us. Sharing – anything – is something that is alien to Linda and only grudgingly endured when there are no other options.

Games it seems are no exception to her rule.

She wasn’t inspired by tennis – missed too many balls I guess and the failure isn’t fun. She liked the football game but got hit by more boots than balls that she headed – again, not fun failing.

However she was absolutely fascinated by the bowling game – 10-pin bowling.

This really surprised me – though again there’s no sharing allowed. Linda against the machine is what works.

She was initially intrigued and I guess, gets immediate feedback. There’s a distinct element of pleasure or satisfaction as the pins fall down and she really responded to that. When the machine re-inforces that with its encouraging “Good job!”, you can begin to see why she might take to this.

Initially her skills were less than an average inexperienced adult playing the game but she persisted. She has developed her own bowling style – one that would never work at a bowling alley but it works wonders on the . “Yes!” she yells through gritted teeth as yet another pitch brings down a multitude of pins.

I’ve lost count of the number of hours she has spent at that virtual bowling alley.

The physical activity expended is also significant which is always a help…

Linda’s score on the Wii Sports bowling has slowly but surely increased. From the low hundreds to two hundred to – well her maximum score is now 300 points which I believe is just one below the maximum possible 301 points.

Me, I’m floundering about 100 points behind her. I’m amazed as she gets strike after strike.

It’s obvious that she gets great pleasure from this experience and here, finally, she has found something that she is demonstrably good at. Again, although playing a game with or against someone is not of interest, Linda knows that Wii bowling is something where she can whoop all-comers!

Now does this help with physical co-ordination of other activities?

I guess the honest answer is I don’t know for certain but I think so.

The combined effect of all the different things we’re doing is improving her skills. She can now throw a ball and it mostly gets to the person she intended. She can also pour a glass of water or juice without a major spillage most times – a real improvement.

Would I recommend a – well yes I would. It’s been a source of great fun and satisfaction and I suspect has been a real tool for improvement of focus, concentration and physical skills.

And when Linda’s not playing the family can share the pleasure too!