Welcome to Mega-Mind Mondays! This series feature both students and parents who have embarked on this fruitful journey of Computational Thinking. Over here, inclusivity is our mission. Expect to hear stories from different backgrounds and walks of life, like a special needs child who found his passion in programming and a parent of a 4 year-old Computational Thinker who is also a coding teacher. After all, this is what we believe in - that Computational Thinking is for anyone and everyone, without discrimination.
Although all four of her children were officially diagnosed with ASD, Michelle went against the norm. She had read many articles online about the dangers of technology and devices for kids diagnosed with ASD, such as increased risks of addiction and social and communication deficits, but those did not deter her from leveraging on the benefits of technology for her children.
To communicate with her kids, Michelle and her husband play computer games with them- since human interaction is not something her children are entirely comfortable with.
Christian, the eldest of her kids, found his passion for programming through this avenue. In this unique feature, we ask him about his journey and some of the difficulties he faced:
“Can you share with us how you started your Computational Thinking journey? What sparked your interest, why did you continue learning it, what do you like about it?”
I started with CodingLab's Scratch holiday workshop at the age of 10. I wished I had lessons earlier as I would be able to learn so much more by now. I really enjoyed my classes and I didn't want it to end. So I bugged my mom to keep sending me for more classes. I first got to know about coding in Minecraft. I wanted to know how some of the mods are done. My mom bought me a book called, "Adventures in Minecraft". There were some Python coding inside the book. That's how I wanted to learn.
“How do you think Computational Thinking has benefitted your life?”
I like that I am learning secondary school math at primary five. The problems I need to work out in programming are harder than those I do in school. I suddenly find math problems a lot easier when I'm doing them.
It has also benefited my gaming life because I understand the scripts that are used in Roblox and Minecraft. I also understood how games work and it made playing games a lot easier.
Editor’s note: Computational Thinking has multiple benefits in different aspects of your life, such as helping your child progress faster in school like Christian. This is all because of the overarching benefit that Computational Thinking brings- giving your child a new way of thinking.
“Do you think it’s important to learn Computational Thinking? Why?”
I think of it as a privilege but I think as we become more and more dependent on computers in our daily life, we should at least know some basics. Our lives are so dependent on computers now. I Google everything I don't understand or want to know. I see my mother YouTube the things she wants to cook and make, we use our smartphones for everything. I know it's painful to live without technology because when my parents give me a screen ban, my life becomes highly inconvenient.
“Do your parents support you in your learning? How?”
Yes. They bought the coding books I wanted even though they were on Minecraft. They also sent me for classes.
“What words of encouragement would you like to share with special needs children who are hesitant to embark on this Computational Thinking journey?”
I'm not really good at giving words of encouragement but you should all give it a try. At least try Scratch and make a game yourself. It is very satisfying.
Editor’s note: You’re absolutely right, Christian! Never try, and you’ll never know. Check out our GAMES page and kickstart your child’s journey in Computational Thinking!