4129GREY, Istanbul / TOHUM AUTISM FOUNDATION / 2019
Autism is a developmental distinctness that comes from birth and shows itself in the early ages as communication disorders. We, as Tohum Autism Foundation, are working to overcome the problems created by this distinctness that kids with autism are having. First and foremost way to bring the kids with autism to life pass through education. If a kid with autism could get a special education, he or she can overcome the difficulties such as focusing, planning and social relations. So, as we have seen through our experiences, if education is accessible, kids with autism can carry on their daily lives without help, get a job and even be brightly successful in that career. That’s the mission we took with us while we were searching a way to make accessible the one on one education that we’re giving in our school for everyone.
According to a study of PEERS Clinic at the University of California, Minecraft is used as a supportive technology for the education of the kids with autism. Minecraft was like an simplified, an easier version of real life for the kids who have difficulties in social relationships, problems on focusing and unable to catch the rhythm of the life. We decided to try this new technology and built the exact copy of our bricks and mortar building with pixels in the game. We also planned a schedule for our students to come and join us in the game. We have put this new technology at the core of our understading of education.
Digital games that are raising day by day are the favourite of young people. Whatever happens in the game is not just an entertainment fiction, but also important as effecting the developmental and intellectual World of them. There were two approaches during the implementation of this Project. First one was to transform an entertaining area into an educational sphere for children with autism, and to form it as accesible for everyone. Second one is to rise the consciousness of who plays the game, about autism. Since then, existing within one of the most famous games in the World, let us to combine those two approaches together.
In the first step of our preparation, which we have started months ago, we started to build our Tohum Autism Foundation, in Istanbul, in Minecraft. By defining the green area in the garden of our building as our educational zone, we set up a special server on behalf of the Tohum Autism Foundation. We created a sustainable training program for children with autism in this server. For the children with autism who are included in our server, we have launched our program with different courses such as ‘Technology Literacy’, ‘What to Do in Minecraft’, ‘Painting and Sculpture with 3D Printer’ and ‘Introduction to Coding’. Thanks to these lessons an educational program for children with autism was created in the digital world. Children who want to write code and children who want to make sculpture could participate in different rooms of the same server, at the same time. With this system in the Minecraft game, we have made it possible for all children with autism to have an innovative perspective that does not squeeze the education between the buildings and can be accessed from anywhere. The reason why we launched our project on April 2nd World Autism Awareness Day was not it is just a special day, but also to create a global change for people working for children with autism. Furthermore, Minecraft's being a well-known game around the world has paved the way for us to reach individuals who are not aware of autism.
We launched the project on April 2nd Autism Awareness day as a sustainable educational program, which was in trending topics for 6 hours. With Nationwide coverage we reached 30 million viewers. The school received 3 times the capacity of itself during this time. Because we were aware that a lot of kids need access to this kind of education. Turkey's one and only school for autism is accessable by all now. For our children and for our future...