New Years Eve 22-23

Autistic people love fireworks just as much as anyone but often miss out due to sensory overload. This is why Autcraft hosts fireworks every hour for 21 hours so that players in every time zone can bring in the new year the same as anyone else.

Just a reminder, Rudolph was the only one to fly on their first try. He excelled. He was judged (harshly) because he was different. Even by Santa. They tried to make him mask his differences.

Only until proven uniquely useful was he accepted.

Now you know how autistic people feel.

Today on Autcraft, we had over 70 players on, gathered together at the Christmas Tree at spawn, all nestled in their bed. Each had a copy of a book in their hands which had the poem, Twas The Night Before Christmas.

The server recited the poem into the chat for all to read along with.

It was so quiet!! Here were 70 autistic children and adults and family members all gathered together in near total silence, reading along together for Christmas Eve. Several times staff members remarked how incredible it was that everyone was just sitting there, not messaging anyone, not saying in the chat... just reading!

It was an incredible moment to share with so many and I really appreciate everyone who came out to share in that timeless classic with us.

Constantly teetering between wishing that people would pay attention to me and wanting to be left alone.

Writing about autism

I am asked quite often to write about autism, whether it's here or to write a book, or anything along those lines. People want to hear my thoughts and even my advice on things regarding all things autism. I'm not sure why exactly but I do appreciate that people want to hear from me. While that's flattering, I am reluctant to do so.

I used to write about autism and being autistic and being an autism parent and about all of the misconceptions... and so on and so forth. Honestly, it was exhausting, for several reasons.

This is why I don't write about autism anymore:

#1 Since starting my Minecraft server for autistic children and their families, I started focusing on more of the positives... the way we support and encourage each other. I focused my efforts on being with people and helping them directly, rather than trying to write my thoughts and just hope they affect people indirectly.

I can touch people's lives directly now, sometimes even improve them, and sometimes... even save them. At the very least, I can be a part of those lives and they can be a part of mine. So I focus all of my time and energy there.

#2 Through my years of writing about autism, I discovered that I was mostly "preaching to the choir." As anyone that is familiar with autism can attest to, people just don't know or want to know about autism until it affects them. So the only people you tend to reach are people already in the autism community.

Yes, you can guide people a little, especially if they're just starting out on this journey, but mostly you're not reaching the people you truly want to educate no matter how hard you try.

So, for the most part, my writing was just for people to either reaffirm what they already knew, or to be able to relate to me (realize they're not alone), or worse... to find something to argue about. Which brings me to...

#3 I am tired of the constant battles. I've been involved in and writing within the autism community for well over a decade and I've seen people fight over vaccines, identity vs person first language, functioning labels, actually autistic people vs autism parents, severely impacted disabled autistic people vs savant types who think autism is future evolution, old terminology vs new terminology, autistic people vs organizations, and the list just goes on and on and on.

The autism community has never been a united force, a cooperative coalition... it's always been a divisive group that is eager to throw hands at each other over everything, big or small.

And I get the sense that many of those people are tired of it too, but instead of stopping, they just meet each new person who offends them as if they're the scum of the Earth and immediately treat them as such... no longer having the patience or decency to just explain their perspective. They see those people using the wrong words or saying the wrong things as if they're extremely offensive and must be put in their place.

It's been going on for decades and it's not stopping. And I'm tired of it.

#4 As I said in point number 1, I am more focused on what I'm doing now, talking with people directly, which means I no longer have the time to keep up on the latest trends, the newest science, the strangest rumours and everything else that one needs to be aware of to have any sort of respectable opinions on things.

I find far too many people are very opinionated on things they clearly don't know enough about and I don't want to be one of those people. I like to make sure I know what I'm talking about before I talk about it and at this point, I'm out of the loop. Actually, I'm kinda happy about that. Trying to keep up with it all, especially while people are barking at you from every direction about how only they can be right, and not knowing who actually is right, is very stressful and anxiety inducing.

My Minecraft server has over 16,000 names on the list now, and I've met every single person that's ever joined it. I have learned a lot in my 10 years of running it and I do feel like I have some insights into things that maybe no one else has... but I'm not in a rush to write about it.

I do share bits and pieces here and there but mostly just the good stuff, things that might make other people smile or feel better about, mostly the stuff that I am reasonably sure I won't find myself in the middle of a battle over. But I'm a little shy about it because I refuse to go back to those kids feeling negative. And I worry that one bad comment will do that.

I don't want to use a wrong word or have my tone policed or even just to be misunderstood to the point that someone decides they must wage war in the comments right then and there... and then bring all of that negative energy back to the kids who depend on me for safety and support.

So I mostly just keep my mouth shut. And I hope that doesn't disappoint anyone who wishes I'd write more. But I do hope those people understand that there is a reason, and I'm doing my best to help where I can... where I'm needed.

Hopefully that's good enough.

Today is Player of the Week!

On Autcraft, my Minecraft server for autistic children and their families, we have one day a week where we share announcements and also celebrate our Player of the Week!

While most Minecraft servers are setup to be automated and reward players that finish first in some competition, Autcraft is different in that we reward people who help the most, are the most positive, who make the most self improvements, and so forth. We do that on the spot as it happens, in the form of CBAs (Caught Being Awesome), and we do it weekly at Player of the Week.

All players can get it, any age, regardless of how they did the week before. Have one good week and it just might happen!

Those who get Player of the Week get some credits to use in our store to buy some perks and also get their head and name showcased for all to see.

By encouraging everyone to be helpful and positive and supportive, the entire community benefits but more so than that, we see less anger, less meltdowns, less competition. We can actually see a direct correlation between the number of CBAs we give out and the number of incidents that happen such as arguments or rage quits. The more they are rewarded for the good things they do, the less likely they are to do the negative things due to negative emotions.

I may be biased, being the guy who started the server, but I can honestly say that I feel just as fortunate to be a part of this community as anyone else because everyone is just so kind, and encouraging, and supportive. It's a joy to be there each and every day, not a chore or a job, and it's always there for me when I feel down... and yes, me being autistic, and human... I have my days where I could use some support and encouragement too.

TED Talks and BuzzFeed have both called Autcraft "The Best Place on the Internet" and I agree with them... not because I started it, or because I made it that way, but because the community and each and every person it, makes it the best.

I'm just lucky to be a part of it.

Elon Musk and Autism/Aspergers

I certainly don't speak for all autistic people or for the autism community in general, but as an autistic person and someone who knows many autistic people who are kind, compassionate, honest, and decent human beings, I feel compelled to make this statement:

Elon Musk is an egotistical narcissistic megalomaniac who is out of touch with reality, power hungry, entitled, privileged, corrupt little man but nothing he does or thinks or says is because of autism.

If anyone is writing about him, or reporting on him, or making any attempt to analyze what is going on in that head of his, please keep autism out of the equation.

Does he actually have Aspergers, like he claims? Who knows. He says he does but clearly he lies. A lot. I don't know him well enough nor am I qualified to make that assessment.

Ultimately though, it doesn't matter. Autistic people can be evil too. It just means that autism isn't the reason.

So please do myself and all of the autistic people I know and any who agree with this statement a favour and leave autism out of the discussion.

Beware those who think "I don't understand" or "doesn't make sense" is the same thing as "must be wrong."

They will try to convince you that their own brand of "common sense" is the only logical conclusion regardless of evidence/proof to the contrary.

Something to think about since I'm having to deal with this right now:

As I am having more and more people around me who are stressed over the holidays, I am slowly starting to feel more and more stressed myself... by them. It's easy to see how this can cause a chain reaction, a snowball effect.

So if you are stressed, and that stress is affecting your attitude, try with all your might to not let that negatively impact how you are with other people. Because they might be stressed too, but worse than that, they may also already be dealing with 30+ people who are stressed and maybe they do let their stress affect their attitude.

Don't add to someone else's stress with your stress.

I'm seeing more and more people be short with people, rude to people, some are more sensitive and more easily hurt, and a whole host of other situations come up that just don't happen as frequently any other time. And it all comes back to me to deal with. This causes me stress.
What I'm trying to say is, remember that everyone else is fighting a battle as well, that you don't know about. Don't let your battle add to their battle.

Share kindness and well wishes despite the hard times, because if we can all do that, maybe none of us would be quite as stressed.

The first door of Autcraft's Advent Calendar opens tonight at midnight, EDT. This will begin 25 days of free items on Autcraft for all of the players

For 10 years now, we've had players from all around the world sign on during the holidays to tell us that it is not a happy time for them. Being , it can be very overwhelming, stressful, scary, and even depressing. Many miss out on all the family gatherings and good times because they simply can't endure the lights, the music, the smells, and the crowd.

But on Autcraft, they've found a place where they can celebrate with friends and even their family in a place where they control the volume of their speakers, the brightness of their monitors, and more, from the comfort of their own chair in their own home. They get fun, and games, and of course, presents.

Tonight kicks it all off with the opening of our Christmas Village, which is updated and improved each year, and the first door of the Advent Calendar opens to reveal a cute diorama and a free present inside.

"It's the little things"

As I added in some notes about a couple of our Minecraft server's newest players into the "important need to know" channel in our Staff Discord this morning, it occurred to me that you probably don't know that we do things like this behind the scenes.

For example, when a player is young, or not a strong reader, or maybe English isn't their first language, we'll make a note here so that all of the staff are aware to use shorter sentences and easier to read/understand explanations for things... maybe take them into a channel where chat isn't so busy.

Sometimes we have players who are feeling especially alone or ignored in life and we'll make a note here for the staff to take extra special time and care to make sure they get a response in chat or have giving them a special greeting when they sign on, such as "It's really great to see you!"

This is a very busy channel for us, one that nobody on our staff ignores. This way we can all know about the little things with each player to be aware of, to be careful of, and to be thoughtful about... because each player is unique and has something different about them that we should keep in mind.

It says it right in the title of the channel we use, it's "important" to know, because the little things to us are very big things to them.

@VivBeanX I welcome the pressure. It'll keep me going! 🙂

In 2021, I started teaching myself Programming for plugins using YouTube videos and whatever answers/explanations to things I could find in Google.

In 2022, I rewrote two of my server's core plugins entirely, making them better, more efficient, and have extra features.

My goal for 2023 is to create a brand new minigame plugin from scratch that will work just the way I want it to and give the players years of fun.

Before starting my server in 2013, I was a web developer working with PHP, which kinda prepared me but also really didn't prepare me. So having gotten this far without a teacher is something I'm really proud of and I hope to continue making progress in an effort to make my server even better.

I'm sharing my goal publicly because as they say... that adds accountability. Now I have to see it through or everyone will ask me about. lol

So... do you happen to have any good resources for learning Java at home?

@Romaq Yeah, I'm really not sure how that works here. The info I see says to just add the link to my website and then add that to my profile, which I did, but aside from the website itself having a checkmark... I'm not sure how I get one for my profile.

Greetings! I am Stuart Duncan or probably better known online as AutismFather.

I created Autcraft, the server for children and their families in 2013 when I noticed many parents reaching out to other parents in hopes that their autistic children could play together because they were being attacked on public servers so much by bullies and trolls.

Since then, the server has added over 16,000 name to the list of approved players and been featured in many research papers, news articles, a TED Talk, and even Mojang's own "Meet a Minecrafter."

I started out with a diploma in Radio Broadcasting, became a writer about autism after my son and I were diagnosed, and then started my Minecraft server, where I finally found where I truly belonged and have been ever since.

I am most interested in helping people, but beyond that, , , , and in plain ole, simple, wholesome, kind videos and news. I try to look for the "good news" more than the bad.

A few links to give you a sense of who I am, if you're at all interested in learning more:
TED Talk:
Meet a Minecrafter:
PC Gamer:

I look forward to sharing more about what I do but more so than that, I look forward to learning more from all of you.

Thank you for reading my message. Nice to meet you!

@BE Thank you! Yeah, it turned out to be pretty amazing... literally changing people's lives, including my own. The value of a good, solid community to feel safe and where you belong is invaluable.

@barefootstache I guess hashtags are pretty important then… I’ll have to keep that in mind. Thank you for letting me know! And yes, I definitely need to check out some other people to follow.

@antares Good advice. I'll see what I can come up with. (Talking about myself is hard 😅 )
Thank you!

I'm not really sure how to get started or what I'm doing but I'm here and looking forward to whatever comes.

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