This year, for the first time, George Blyth will have kids to invite to his birthday party, ABC News reports.
The primary school student has autism and has made a special group of mates playing a modified version of Dungeons and Dragons.
The game is run by a Canberra social inclusion role-play business called Dice 4 Diversity, which is helping kids with diverse needs improve their conversation and social skills.
“He looks forward to it, it’s the highlight of his week,” his mum Jenelle said.
“There’s a group that he can fit in with.”
George plays a modified game of Dungeons and Dragons every Saturday with Canberra father Ian Bennett.
A self-described “tragic Dungeon and Dragons player”, Mr Bennett started the company after battling to access therapeutic services for his three children, who each have diverse needs.
“We’ve fought the health system for appropriate treatment and we’ve sought out-of-the-box solutions when no progress was made with mainstream therapy,” he said.
“I was playing Dungeons and Dragons with my friends, and I started playing it with my children and realised their social skills were getting better.
“Normally they wouldn’t have social interactions with shop keepers or tavern owners. I saw their conversation improving.”
For some children who find the real world overwhelming and challenging, it turns out a little bit of magic can go a long way.
In the game, participants take ownership of a character in a fantasy world, work in a team to overcome adversity and navigate their way to a successful outcome.
Gaming helps children develop social skills in unusual situations. (ABC News: Emma Thompson)