A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart

A Boy Made of Blocks

Keith Stuart

Alex is struggling to bond with his autistic son and eventually finds a connection via the Xbox video interaction game ‘Minecraft’. Building a virtual world together also becomes a two-way game-changer in rebuilding his marriage and other problematic relationships. This unsparingly honest, wise and humorous story, based on the author’s own experiences, provides an authentic and inspiring insight into parenting and understanding an autistic child.

I go upstairs and from Sam’s room I can hear the familiar sound of a joy pad in use, the little plasticky button clicks echoing down the hall. Surprisingly, I can also hear piano music – delicate, slow, slightly maudlin, coming from whatever he’s playing. At least it’s definitely not Call of Duty... Inside, Sam is sitting cross-legged on his bed, a small LCD screen and the Xbox 360 jammed on a little Ikea desk opposite...
“Hey, Sam, what are you playing?” I say, realising I have the fundamentals of a Casablanca joke here, that would be utterly wasted on an eight-year-old child.
“Minecraft, Minecraft,” he says, without looking away from the television...
There’s a long silence as Sam keeps playing, chopping at trees and running around. I fiddle with the door handle, half in the room, half out, utterly unsure of how to communicate...
“Sam, I’ve got to get back.”
“No! Watch, Daddy, I can build things.”
But what’s the point, I ask myself. When was a kid these games had baddies to shoot at and high scores to beat. There were considerably fewer cardboard-box-shaped pigs to herd up.
“It’s not for grown-ups,” I mumble at last. Daddies don’t play computer games.”
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