Larping: Great Benefit for Adults with Autism

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 I had never been familiar with the term, “larp” or “larping” until quite recently. At first, I was taken aback, wondering why adults would want to dress up in costumes to act out made up stories. But the more I learned, the more I liked. I can’t say that you will find me out participating personally, but there are some seriously positive aspects of this new phenomenon. Larp is an acronym for life action role-playing. The players physically act out their characters’ actions in a fictional setting while interacting with one another.

There are different factions of LARPs in different parts of the country and in different countries. Most organizations typically meet about once a month to get together and have weekend long events. The event coordinators are called gamemasters and they help to decide the location of the event as well as facilitating the actual game. These games can be mediated by game rules or by the consensus among players participating.

The first LARPs originated in the late 1970’s and spread internationally during the 1980’s and so on. Some games are more interested in medieval war scenarios and some are more devoted to creativity, the arts and dramatic expression. Players’ actions in the real world represent character actions in the imaginary LARP world. Larping has many similarities to improve theater. Players typically have one main character that they continue to develop; most players dress as their characters and have particular weapons, tools or talents.

LARPs are mostly considered a game for entertainment. It helps to bring people together to create a story, overcome challenges in pursuit of a collective goal. These events also include intellectual puzzles as well as physical activities such as battle. Larping has also been used for educational or political purposes, as well as a research tool to test social and economic theory.

One of the most interesting inspiring aspects of the LARP world are its connection with young adults and adults that suffer from Asperger’s syndrome. One young man in particular that was positively affected from his experiences with LARPing is Jon Gallagher. Growing up, Gallagher had such trouble making friends and forming relationships due to his difficulty in expressing his emotions. However, a few years ago he tried out the live action role-playing and was accepted almost immediately. He still struggles with friendships and communication, but has made leaps and bounds due to the incredible acceptance and love he has received from this community. Since then he has been able to keep a job, friends and become all-around a more confident and happy man.

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