Computer Science and Game Design for Kids on the Autism Spectrum

This is an attempt  to document our after-school computer lab for students on the autism spectrum. Our 20+ students, ages 8 to 15, meet once a week to learn computer programming and video game design. Some students have been in the program for three years – and we expect many to remain for the next 5 years, maybe more.

My instructional design is also starting to include two new topics, STEM curriculum targeted to girls,  age 5-12, and looking at the challenges of online education for youth.

My name is Kathryn, I created the program, and this is both the story about how it all got started, and our progression as we continue forward.

Note: this site is designed for share information with teachers and facilitators, for parents, click the Parent Page.

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Recent Posts and Updates


  • Menu of All Video Tutorials

    Menu of All Video Tutorials

      This isn’t a perfect list, but all the video series can be found on this page, which I try to keep updated. Menu is copied below: Have Dreams Tutorial Videos Scratch Tutorials: Space Invaders (5+ videos) this tutorial series will teach you how to make a game about a ship that shoots cannons at things that are falling...

  • World Building and the Quest for Identity (Social Computing)

    World Building and the Quest for Identity So this is the first post tagged for “social computing” which is a departure from the computer science curriculum. I think it’s important to not sugar coat – time is limited and you have to choose between the computer lab being an aggressive learning environment, or an environment that uses technology to...

  • Two-year Afterschool Videogame Program

    But here is the overview of the concept for a multi-disciplinary extensive curriculum that specifically addresses young...

  • Overview


    Because of our rolling enrollment, I began to feel that our computer class needed self-paced training — materials that varied to accommodate different abilities and ages. Yet the prep time needed to create individualized written lessons was daunting. Then it hit me: video.

  • What we teach

    What we teach

    Because we offer a “continuum of services”, and the kids range from 7-18, we have a lot of time to cover a lot of material, and need variety of project types for the students as the years go by. The “two year plan” is to scan and animate the students — so they can be the heroes of their…

  • What happens in the computer lab during the session

    What happens in the computer lab during the session

    1. Students enter lab to find a piece of paper on their keyboard. It tells them to open a browser and visit a website

    2. On that website is a chart with their name on a list. Next to their name is a notes about where they left off on their project and what to do. It gives them a…

  • Workstation – Support Tools

    Workstation – Support Tools

    Each labeled item is critical to this highly structured environment — even the cat toy.

    Every workstation is labeled because the students have assigned seats, which keeps the student connected to their workstation files. A login sheet, headphone and headphone splitter, and of course the cat toy in a cup is the most important tool of all.



  • Minecraft Middle School Curriculum I: Treasure Hunts (no modding or programming)

    Minecraft Middle School Curriculum I: Treasure Hunts (no modding or programming)

      In our afterschool program, there was a demand for Minecraft, and socially, a lot of magic happens when you do a club because the kids help each other, and show off their creations. We’re not ready to get...

  • New Curriculum: Frogger Framework and Aquarium Tutorials – 10 lessons each

    New Curriculum: Frogger Framework and Aquarium Tutorials – 10 lessons each

    It’s a new year, a new term. Right now, I’ve got two levels – a “Frogger-style” game for advanced students, And “”Aquarium” for beginning students – The set I need to still make is the Frogger project for students...

  • Details – all

    From the tutorials themselves, to tech support cat toys – to understand how the computer lab works, you have to see how the details come together to make a system that works.

  • How to organize video tutorials

    Why does YouTube always end up as a random slushpile of videos? I don’t know, but I finally threw together this page in Dreamweaver of the “space invaders” 7 part tutorial. It was a way to add notes and...



Autism and General Ideas

  • Switching between Windows

    At this point, I think it’s easier to teach the kids calculus than switching between windows. People with autism...

  • Learning vs. Following Tutorials

    One of the biggest concerns is that the students are just following the tutorials and not thinking critically. I...