Using Minecraft as a Learning Tool for Children with Autism

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.

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8 thoughts on “Using Minecraft as a Learning Tool for Children with Autism

  1. I am home schooling my 2 boys that are 9 &10. We have used this to create communities that we are learning about. For example when we studied The First Thanksgiving they created Plymoth Rock. Then at Christmas they created Santa land! It was great fun and they created from ehat they learned. They were able to recall the infirmation better. We have Autism , ADHD,ODD snd much more.

  2. I’m very interested in seeing the research examining these possible befeficial effects! Where can it be found?

  3. My son loves Minecraft, and we got him the ‘Steve Surname Adventures’ series, which are stories based in the world of Minecraft. His reading really has come on leaps and bounds.

  4. Yes, Mine Craft initially is interesting, creative, and engaging. But as the player advances further into the game, it becomes more and more violent. The take away is to monitor the game because what you initially observe when your child begins playing it, is not the same game he/she will be playing later. Speaking from experience!

    • Hi Carol, this is a fair point. Every parent will have a different opinion on the violence in a game like Minecraft and the context of said violence. Minecraft’s creative mode is all about building and destroying structures. Minecraft’s survival mode pits players against the environment, making it necessary for them to harvest meat from animals and to engage in combat with monsters that threaten them. The Battlemode recently introduced to certain versions of the game pits player against player, but it isn’t required. As with any form of digital entertainment, parents will need to use their discretion and open and maintain a discussion about what is and isn’t acceptable behavior.

  5. I created a school room in mine craft. Most of his school work is now presented in a mine craft format. No more struggles, no more tears, he can’t wait to log on and get his work done. New learning is not done in Minecraft but practice is. Reading has improved, math fluency, but more importantly there is a real desire to do it. Win win as far as I’m concerned ????

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