An online community is growing for kids with autism.
It’s called Autcraft and is part of the hugely popular video game called Minecraft. In it users can connect online and build a society, except in this version everyone has some connection to autism.
Stuart Duncan couldn’t find a safe online community for his son, Cameron. So he created one.
Autcraft is a special Minecraft server built with the needs of autism families in mind. Players can create homes, castles – even Christmas ornaments – as long as they work together.
“You have to go and get the resources. You have to chop down the wood, mine for the minerals and stuff. So they go off and do that together, put their resources together and build things together and they start to make friends when they’ve never had one before.”
So far Autcraft has 5000 members from all around the world, including dozens of volunteers who monitor the server for hackers and keep an eye out for bad behaviour. “They will take the time to talk to them and sort things out, make sure everything runs smoothly.
Before joining, everyone has to complete an application and pass a screening process to keep as many bullies as possible out of the community. It creates a safe space where kids who have never fit in with their peers can finally make friends: “I just play with other people.”
“They’re learning how to share things for the first time ever. You’re learning how to ask for help when you need help or to volunteer to help when somebody else needs help.”
Traits like sharing and compassion are rewarded, unlike traditional video games that are all about beating the bad guys.
“There is no boss that you have to beat to get to the next boss. There’s no leveling up in order to get stronger to get further.”
Instead, kids do what they’re good at: playing paintball or building a monument, all while building confidence that translates into the real world.