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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.

💛

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By changingthenarrativeaboutautism

Author: Integrative Counsellor, BSc (Hons) Psychology.

Neurodivergent Mother, passionate about the acceptance and respectful treatment of neurodivergent children and adults.

My personal experience, relationship and connection with my son, provides me with a depth of insight into PDA. Our family's lived experience and love for our son, has driven me to research and write about PDA.

In addition to this lived experience, which I am very gradually making sense of, my professional background supports my ability to critically reflect and make sense of some of the strengths and difficulties we face.

My career started in 1999, when I graduated with a 2:1 BSc Hons Psychology degree. As a graduate I worked in a residential care setting for Adults with Autism and Learning Disabilities. I went onto complete a further three years Integrative Counselling training and then later; two years clinical psychology training. My clinical experience includes working for the NHS, Action for Children and Relate:

For the NHS, I worked in a University Hospital Psychology and Counselling service, a Community Mental Health Team, a Parenting Team and a Community Neuro Rehabilitation Team.

For Action for Children, I worked in a Leaving Care Team, and in a residential care setting for Looked After Children.

For Relate, I worked in the young people's service providing therapy to children facing a range of difficulties from trauma, loss and separation to depression, anxiety and self-harm.

I first developed my interest in Neuroscience as an undergraduate. I connected more fully with this during my time working as a trainee alongside a very inspiring Neuropsychologist in a Community Neuro Rehabilitation team. My passion for neuroscience became even more valuable to me, when I became a parent.

The Polyvagal Theory, in particular, has been central in helping me to develop a deeper understanding of PDA.

This led me to hypothesise and write about the relationship between neuroception and PDA in my article “Highly Sensitive Neuroception May Be at The Heart of PDA”.

I hope you find this site helpful and I thank you for your participation and feedback.

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