Aspect Social Clubs

Social clubs get kids with autism back in the game

A social club run by Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) is using hugely popular computer game Minecraft to help young people with autism and other disabilities learn collaborative play and cooperation.

Hosted at Newcastle West gaming venue DownForwardPunch, the social club is facilitated by two Aspect staff members as well as DownForwardPunch owner, Ron West.

With a session each for primary school and high-school aged participants, the club caters to young people between the ages of seven and eighteen. Xbox and Playstation games are played as well.

“Using video games in this context supports ‘social skills through stealth’ for our participants who often find it difficult to attend other community social activities,” says Aspect Educational Outreach consultant, Craig Smith. “An example of this might include encouraging players to work together to solve particular architectural problems in Minecraft.”

Craig is currently completing PhD studies at the University of Newcastle, focussing on best practice to support the successful inclusion of children with autism across school settings. He is also on the University’s Special Education Advisory Board.

“Community based social clubs are an important part of supporting the inclusion of students with an Autism Spectrum Disorder,” says Craig. “We are starting new social clubs all the time, and welcome suggestions from the community.”

Other examples of the social opportunities offered by Aspect include AU:SUM at Rosie’s School of Rock, where students form a band and learn how to play an instrument. Social clubs for video production as well as craft and cupcakes are also being planned for the near future.

Funded by the Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care, Aspect’s video game social club offers a fun, supportive environment both for those who are very familiar with the games on offer, as well as players who are just starting out.

WHEN: 4.30 – 6pm Tuesdays

WHERE: DownForwardPunch
846 Hunter Street
Newcastle West

For registration details for the video game social club, or information about other social clubs, contact Craig Smith at Autism Spectrum Australia at or phone 02 4922 5900.

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