Microsoft to Run Autistic Inclusion Days
There are good days in gaming. Where we celebrate and appreciate diversity and inclusion. And also where we can appreciate how gaming has a role in building safe and conducive environments for play. This is one of those days.
The flagship Microsoft Store in Sydney has partnered with Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) to offer a series of free autism-friendly Minecraft workshops in the store. The series is running from October 2019 and is aimed at children aged 8 to 14 years.
Microsoft Store Sydney worked with Aspect to develop a workshop format that would suit the needs of children on the autism spectrum –dimmer lighting, reduced noise and in-store music, and appropriate training for Microsoft Store staff.
Minecraft is particularly well-fitted for this purpose, where creativity and playful exploration are intrinsic elements of the game.
News like this really brighten up my day and makes me feel hopeful about the positive nature of our hobby and community. My own son is also on the spectrum and would benefit immensely through initiatives such as this. There are good days, and this is one of them.
From the news release:
Flagship Microsoft Store Sydney in partnership with Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect), today announced a series of free autism friendly Minecraft workshops at Microsoft Store for children aged 8 -14 years.
Running from October 2019, the workshops will offer an accessible experience for children on the autism spectrum to explore, build, create and foster social skills through the magic of Minecraft.
The workshops follow a two-month pilot program at Microsoft Store Sydney. Driven by an inquiry from a customer, who was looking for an inclusive space for their autistic son to socialise in, the Microsoft community team created a regular, dedicated event for children on the spectrum to meet and game together. The demand for these weekly sessions moved Microsoft Store to approach Aspect, Australia’s largest national service provider for people on the autism spectrum, to develop an approved workshop format to cater specifically to this audience.
Autism can affect the way a person communicates and interacts with other people and their environment. This can mean children on the spectrum may have social communication difficulties, sensory sensitivities and repetitive behaviour, making it sometimes challenging for them to engage and interact in group workshops and events.
Microsoft Store Sydney worked closely with Aspect to develop an approved format for the new workshops and to create an inclusive environment within the Store during these times. Changes to the format included dimmed lighting, reduced noise and training of Microsoft Store staff to better understand the needs of kids on the autism spectrum.
The new workshops allow children on the autism spectrum to immerse themselves in Minecraft, meet and have fun with other builders in the area, and stretch their skills with timed challenges.
About the workshops:
Date/time: Every fortnight, alternating Saturday and Sunday
Location: Microsoft Store – Flagship on Pitt St Mall, Sydney
Autism Friendly Minecraft Build Challenge
This free Minecraft workshop is hosted specifically for children on the autism spectrum, aged 8 – 14, to create and build in Minecraft. This workshop is a great way for players to immerse themselves in Minecraft, meet and have fun with other builders in the area, and stretch their skills with timed challenges.
The Microsoft Store will offer a reduced sensory experience inside the Community Theatre for the duration of the workshop, including dimmed lighting and lowered music. These are small group sessions as part of Microsoft Store’s ongoing commitment to accessibility and inclusivity in support of our community. Parents and siblings are welcome to participate. Register here
About Autism Spectrum Australia:
Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect)is Australia’s largest autism-specific service provider, with one of the biggest autism-specific school programs in the world. A not-for-profit organisation, Aspect work in partnership with people of all ages on the autism spectrum, and their families to deliver evidence-informed solutions that are person-centred, family-focused and customer driven. Their services provide people on the autism spectrum with the opportunity to realise their unique potential, as well as providing much-needed support to their families, carers, friends and colleagues.
About Microsoft Store:
Microsoft Store in Sydney is a retail experience that blends the traditional retail space with the innovative technology and values, that is part of Microsoft’s DNA. Microsoft Store removes barriers between people, their ideas, and ways to pursue them, to create an experience where customer can learn, create, achieve and be empowered. The autism friendly Minecraft workshops are the latest sessions Microsoft Store offer to help children create, learn new skills and achieve more.