One of the most common things that I hear from parents of children affected by autism is how much they love the game Minecraft. If given the choice, many of these children would play Minecraft for hours on end. Unfortunately, as much as children with autism may enjoy playing Minecraft, too much of it will not be helpful. In moderation, however, the game offers children on the autism spectrum many opportunities to improve social skills, develop friendships, and practice a variety of important executive functioning skills.
Because Minecraft is such a popular game for children in general, knowledge of and involvement in the game provides an opportunity for kids affected by autism to connect with their peers. This can be particularly helpful if a child with autism is playing a multiplayer session online together with a number of their real-world friends and classmates. Minecraft is a great game for teamwork and collaboration, and requires an understanding of what others want to achieve in the game and communication about how to work on things together.
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Minecraft is actually a very complex game, and if you spend some time listening to a child talk about it, you may come away understanding less than you thought you did. One of the strategies that parents can use with children affected by autism is to ask them to explain Minecraft in layman’s terms, or in a way that adults or non-players can understand. This may not be easy for them, but because of their interest in the game, they’ll likely to be willing to give it a try.
Using Minecraft as a Learning Tool: Projects for Children Affected by Autism:
Minecraft can be an excellent tool for practicing a variety of executive functioning skills. In our four-part series for Autism Awareness Month, we will have Minecraft Monday logs that describe many of the executive skills practiced while playing Minecraft. Each of these Minecraft Monday posts will also give your child projects to work on that you may want to observe and comment on to practice these skills and help transfer them to life outside of the game.