Last night I sat with Andrew as he introduced himself to his first online community.
A few weeks ago someone mentioned to us the idea of letting Andrew play his Minecraft game online with other kids. “No way.” I said. “Too many creeps out there.” But Dave looked into it. He found a server specifically for autistic kids. It doesn’t have some of the features of regular minecraft…things that some kids might find upsetting…and it is VERY closely monitored. So, he emailed the person running the server and asked about signing up Andrew. It took a while, but we heard yesterday that Andrew was accepted into the community. So, last night, Andrew and I sat anxiously in front of the computer to see what it was all about.
And it was pretty awesome.
First Andrew explored around the Minecraft world that has been constructed. We could see chat messages of kids chatting, but we couldn’t find anyone else. So, after a few minutes, Andrew asked me to type “Hi! I’m new here and I don’t know my way around. Where is everyone?” And several kids piped up right away offering tours and explanations and welcoming Andrew. There was a woman moderator overseeing all of the interaction and she would jump in as needed to help out. Before we knew it, Andrew’s little character was transported to where another character was waiting for him…with a horse (?!) and had Andrew follow him all around to show him where things were. Other kids would come by to help with the tour “Make sure to show Andrew the store!” “Someone needs to tell him about the jobs!” He’d ask a simple question, and get lots of responses from kids playing.
There was something about it that was so heartwarming! He LOVED it. Heck, I loved it too!
And dang it, I should know by now that online communities can be really fun and supportive. I’ve found such a great community through blogging! But, to see a safe and fun way for it to work for my kid? I sort of can’t believe it!
He has big plans on what he wants to build tonight to show the other kids in the game. And I plan on being right there next to him for now to make sure everything is going okay and to help with chatting with my super speedy typing skilz! But so far my first impression of highly monitored online gaming? It’s great! :)
Though nothing really compares to leaf-shaped pumpkin scones!