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PDA And Self Directed Learning Through Online Play.

You know how our children take us on journeys we would otherwise probably never have taken?

Well, over recent months I have been on yet another of these, but this time into the world of Minecraft.

William taught himself to play, with a little guidance from YouTube.

William then delighted in teaching me how to play!

I have been really blown away by it and not just because William absolutely adores it, but because it is also an incredible learning resource.

It is packed with opportunities to develop;

creativity, design, numeracy, literacy, problem solving, expressive language, receptive language, communication skills, social and emotional skills, the list goes on.

Through the wonders of video calling, my son and his friend have been playing Minecraft together most days, interactively. I scaffold the process as needed and remain on hand to head off glitches, but my son and his friend are very much in the driving seat. (We do put in place online safety measures to prevent connections with unknown people and we all sign up to peaceful mode).

Minecraft, as a shared passion and interest, really strengthens William’s connection and interactions with his friend. The known aspects of the game, give rise to sufficient predictability and it’s creative scope means that there is still enough novelty too.

The game also provides some genuine equity. There are no gross motor skill imbalances, less developmental stage related imbalances and there are few imposed rules (depending on setting).

It really creates the kind of safety that opens up learning and development in a way that is quite magical to witness.

I’ve had some heart burst moments listening as new language has been emerging, words have been typed out and some beautiful communication has taken place. It has facilitated so much co-operative play and many generous and thoughtful interactions.

Given that screen time often gets particularly bad press, its been great to see just how valuable a tool, online learning can be. We still strive for balance, and I remain conscious of how much more time I would like us to have outdoors, but when I see the strengths this form of play also offers, it makes it more comfortable for me to trust the process of this form of self directed learning online.

💛

The Facebook Page supporting this blog is : https://www.facebook.com/ChangingTheNarrativeAboutAutismAndPDA/

By Jessica Matthews

Neurodivergent Mother, Independent Researcher, and Writer. Background in Psychology and Counselling with postgraduate training in Clinical Psychology (BSc Hons Psychology and Trained Integrative Counsellor). Passionate about Neurodivergent Identity, Non-neuronormative Narratives and Polyvagal Informed Parenting.

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