How sandbox games like Minecraft can help kids with autism

If you haven’t heard of the game Minecraft, there’s a good chance that you been living on a different planet from your children over the past few years. Minecraft is what is known as a “sandbox” game, set in an open virtual world where the player does not need to have any particular goals or direction in mind in order to experience success. Minecraft is a game of discovery, construction, and learning, and it’s being used in a variety of school settings to teach skills like mathematics, physics, history, and reading comprehension. In addition, sandbox games like Minecraft can help kids with Autism develop creativity, flexibility, and other important thinking skills.

Children who play Minecraft practice a variety of thinking and problem-solving skills on a regular basis, like planning when designing a new building or mapping out a farm, flexibility when learning to “craft” new objects, and organizational skills to keep track of materials they have accumulated and ensure that they are safe from enemy creatures. There is evidence that Minecraft‘s use of thinking skills may be particularly helpful for children affected by autism. Many parents of children with autism have touted the positive power of the game in engaging their children. While there are legitimate concerns that some  children with autism can become obsessed in their Minecraft play, there remain a number of strategies that can be used to make sandbox games like Minecraft into great opportunities for learning.


Here’s how to help kids with autism get the most out of sandbox games like Minecraft.

  1. Make the time to play the game with your child. At the very least observe them playing. You may need to ask them to slow down  their building and exploration in order for you to understand what they are doing. Asking them questions about the game can be a great exercise for both of you.
  2. Encourage your child to work on a specific task in the game. Preferably find something that requires the use of planning and organizational skills. Rather than simply exploring, ask them if they can build you a house or set up a farm.
  3. Take Minecraft and other sandbox games beyond the console or computer. Encourage them to build with Legos, design and construct a fort in the backyard, or to learn more about the actual mining and discovery of materials that make up today’s buildings and objects.

There are many other fantastic strategies for using Minecraft and other sandbox games to help children impacted by autism. Many of these can be found in the articles listed below.

See our in-depth Minecraft Playbook here.

Related Posts

One thought on “How sandbox games like Minecraft can help kids with autism

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Create Your Free Account

All membership plans come with full access to our entire suite of tools learning guides, and resources. Here are a few of the ones we think you’ll like the most:

  • Personalized learning profiles for up to 5 children.
  • Access to our complete library of technology learning guides.
  • A personalized stream of advice, articles, and recommendations.
  • And of course, lots, lots more…

Already have an account? Login →



Don't have an account? Sign up now! →

Forgot Your Password?