Monday, 5 June 2017

Why it's ok for my son to be playing Minecraft on a sunny day

Why it's ok for my autistic son to be playing Minecraft on a sunny day - Anthony plays on Minecraft Story Mode

It's half term.  The internet is full of photos of kids in paddling pools, at the beach and having picnics. But in our home, you are just as likely to see my kids playing apps and computer games as you are seeing them outside.

Don't get me wrong, my kids need their time outside.  They need to run around, jump, spin and swing through the parks and playgrounds. But they need their indoor chill time too.  And when it's baking hot outside, spending a part of the day in the cool indoors on their devices is relaxing, calming and educational.

Our youngest uses his iPad for far more than playing games.  As an autistic child, he finds the routine of applications calming and the music and pictures relaxing.  David feels safe when he has his iPad with him.  In some ways it's like carrying a security blanket or favourite toy about.  And despite being a small six year old boy, in many ways David's mind functions more like someone half his age and having a security blanket when you are two or three years old isn't unusual.

Anthony on the other hand has just turned nine.  He's not in a specialist unit like his brother and attends a regular mainstream school with support as he has an ASD and ADHD diagnosis.  His technology is not limited to an iPad and covers quite a few gaming systems, from PCs, to Minis, to all-in-ones. But it's interesting that he uses them in many of the same ways as his younger brother.

It's currently 20 degrees outside (finally, is summer here?) and we've spent a few hours today at Chessington World of Adventures. Anthony went on some of his favourite (read fast) rides and now we are back home, he's piled into one of the latest online games he got for his birthday last week - Minecraft Story Mode.  And he's doing very well in it.

He has recognised that games are a good way for him to relax and switch off.  This is great as it help makes him much calmer and happier.  He's also learnt what to do when he get's stuck on a level - it was his own idea to look the answer up on the internet when I said I didn't know what to do next.

Minecraft generally has been very popular and very good for Anthony.  It has expanded his imagination through designing his own places.  It has also helped him with his understanding of consequence and planning - he knows he needs to collect sticks and redstone before he can make a redstone torch.  It's even led to the a few connections with some of his classmates from school too - and if you haven't heard of Autcraft, then do check it out.

And I'll be honest, it's something I enjoy him doing too.  I can sit (when given the chance) and watch his progress like watching a very long movie.  I can see how he copes with games and watch him relax, focus (because it's actually a common misconception that people with ADHD can't focus) and have fun.

So I guess I'm saying that although it might not be for everyone, it's OK that we aren't all out in the sun all the time.  In fact, I'd go so far to say as it's actually a good thing for our different but rather awesome tribe.


  1. Minecraft and other technological games get a bad reputation. With PanKwake we have found that it actually builds executive function...all that planning and organizing how to build or capture and tame animals. I watched her on the climbing wall the other day. I could actually almost see her little mind at work planning two or even three steps ahead. Minecraft did that for her.

    A lot of people talk about it causing meltdowns. To be honest in the beginning...yes some of our worst were Minecraft related. Like the time I deleted her worlds...twice...BUT who would not be then. Someone deleted your whole world that you had been working on for months. Even NT children would have gone ballistic...rightly so. It was also when the rules of the game would not let her do certain things.

    But now...after about three or four has actually helped her mood regulation. She is coming more and more to accept that some things just cannot be done. At 11 she is down to one or two meltdowns a month....from a high of six or more per day when she was younger. Yes, some of that is natural maturation but I believe Minecraft and other computer games have been a contributing factor as well.

    Have a nice summer and relax.

    1. That's wonderful. Have a good summer too. xx

  2. My kids have yet to discover Minecraft, but I've heard good things about it. I do think playing games and working things out is beneficial, my son at just 4 loves games and he amazes me by how quickly he works everything out. Sounds like being inside with tech is a great thing for your boys, calming them, offering security and a way to relax x Thanks for sharing with #WotW

  3. let's hope summer is here, and agree, often it's much cooler indoors and chill out time in this weather is much needed. #wotw

  4. I think this is an excellent post-no one should have to make excuses as to why they allow their children to do something and you're no exception.

  5. Ooo Minecraft is a big deal in this house too, so I'm off to check out Autocraft too. It's a brilliant game which teaches lots of skills, we all need downtime sometimes. #PostsFromTheHeart

  6. My son is just getting into Minecraft so I predict a mini obsession starting soon, ha x

  7. Having screen time sounds like it is just what your boys need to chill out and relax. Parenthood is always a balancing act, going with what works best for your children and your family. Having time out to do things we love - such as playing Minecraft - is so important. #WotW

  8. Minecraft features strongly in our house too. I think it's great that the world of ipads has opened up opportunities for children to have support in different ways, whether that be for calming reassurance, or stimulation. I love seeing what our kids can build on Minecraft though I haven't really got my head round the spawning of things yet! None of us should ever have to explain why we let our kids do certain things as only we know what's best for our kids. Great post #postsfromtheheart

  9. The Tubblet never got into Minecraft, but she loved other games. She read and went outside to play as well so as long as she wasn't spending all day slumped in front of a screen, we didn't worry.

  10. Having a routine is comforting for lots of people and I'm happy your sons have established their own way of making a routine. As for me, I would die a slow death if I didn't have my laptop.

  11. I find minecraft so relaxing and calming myself so I can understand why he would use in that way. I remember when my son got it I played away hours without even realising just so relaxed. Routine is also a big thing in our house my kids turn into devils if we deviate and its so less stressful when everyone know what they should be doing. #PostsFromTheHeart

  12. I've heard about Minecraft so much but still don't know what it's all about. No doubt the time will come in a few years when the little man hears about it from friends at school, that's if the next big game hasn't come about. I'm pleased to know it works well for your son. Thanks for joining #TriumphantTales, hope to see you back next week! :)

  13. It's not for anyone else to judge what works for your family. Sounds as though you are careful to get a balance with outdoor time too. Thanks for linking up with us. #bigpinklink

  14. I love this, but you should never have to justify why your child does what he does. Personally, we are outdoors most of the time, but that's for my own reasons, the fact that with four children it is way easier to control them when we are out and about as opposed to trashing my house! #bigpinklink

  15. I think it's fab that Anthony enjoys Minecraft, it makes him happy so that's all that matters. We love getting outdoors, but also enjoy days in on ipads, consoles etc.

    Thanks so much for joining in with #mmbc. Hope to see you next week x

  16. Wonderful post 😊 glad to hear I'm not alone in this 😂 My two youngest are 8 and 14 and Minecraft has been an excellent source of endless fun for them both.

  17. Minecraft is a game that really puzzles me! Go him for being able to do it and finding something that really engages and relax him!
    Sometimes the sun is just too hot!

  18. My three youngest have all enjoyed minecraft at one time or another. It's brilliant! My son with ASD spends a lot of time on the computer but he uses it for doing lots of different things and I've learned to accept that it's actually ok for him to spend his time this way. #spectrumsunday

  19. Who makes the rules ? My babes love going out in the rain and sometimes when it boiling hot you can find us in the kitchen baking. We have to go with the flow as parents and let our kids just be happy and enjoy what they enjoy when they like it #Postsfromtheheart

  20. #spectrumsunday When you have a child with additional needs, one does things very differently from others, but even if the boys are playing mine craft and indoors on a lovely day, it's no one else's business and you can't entertain kids 24/7

  21. We've not got into minecraft but we have an iPad which has been an amazing thing for keeping EW entertained on the long school run to take his older sis to special school! I'd much rather he was doing something constructive than being bored to tears in back seat (or moaning!). It's all a balance isn't it, and I find the anti-screen time movement quite unhelpful a lot of the time, we can't stop advancing technology and I think it's good our kids are learning technology skills in addition to the enjoyment they get out of the games too! #spectrumsunday

  22. I always battle with the guilt of the kids and tech; Tink loves her tablet and H is always on the PC or the Xbox, but, to be honest, it makes them happy. There's no point me trying to force them to do stuff they don't want to do. I make sure they get out in the garden or we go for a walk to the park at least. #postsfromtheheart


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What is Autism?
It's so much I couldn't possibly try and explain. For us it's wonderful and heart-breaking. Joyous and truthful. But as far as diagnosis is concerned, why not have a look at the National Autistic Society for their definition of Autism.
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