The Lab is a not-for-profit network of technology clubs for Autistic children and young people. It is somewhere Autistic young people can feel safe, accepted and connected while doing activities they love. They might play games, code, or make videos – supported by mentors with a shared passion for tech and gaming. Lab Mentors connect with participants and support them to connect with each other.
What is The Lab?
The Lab is a tech and games based social experience for young people aged 8-18+ years, where the goal is to have fun and make friends.
The Lab offers an environment for your child to explore their interests in computers and technology with mentors who have passion and expertise in the same areas. The Lab is participant-led, meaning that your child is able to explore their interests on their own terms. There is no requirement to do any particular activity at any particular time, so your child can engage in activities because they want to, not because they have to. In our two-hour, weekly Lab sessions, your child will be supported by Lab mentors to engage in solo or group activities.
Activities can include:
- Playing games
- 3D design
- Making games
- Digital art
A social experience for your child
Surrounded by mentors and like-minded peers with shared interests, your child will have plenty of opportunities to connect with others and develop their social skills. Lab Mentors have enthusiasm for your child’s interests and will always help your child feel heard and accepted. In this accepting environment, your child can work with others, build relationships and enhance their self-esteem as and when they are ready. Lab Mentors are always there to help your child build their confidence and engagement.
A supportive and positive social experience
The Lab is a strengths-based program meaning that it works from the aptitude and passion that participants have for games and technology. The Lab becomes a supportive and positive social experience based on what participants love to do most: playing games and talking about games and technology with their friends. The Lab is social skills experience based on participants’ own interests.
Join a session at The Lab
The Lab’s approach is unstructured and does not have expectations of specific education or technology outcomes. All Labs are organised locally and applications are made directly to a Lab nearest to you. Some Labs are associated with larger organisations who manage or auspice The Lab, and some Labs are organised by individuals or small groups of parents or carers in their local area.
Many Lab venues offer a free trial period where participants can attend a session and then pay if they decide to continue. Following this, session fees are kept as low as possible in line with The Lab’s not for profit status.
“My son looks forward to the Lab every week and in a world full of anxiety and peer rejection, this is a bit of lifeline we cling to. For me, the Lab allows me to connect with other parents in the same situation. It’s a fabulous network of ideas, experiences and compassion.” – Parent
“The Lab has taken this experience of gaming that most people see as an anti-social thing, and they’ve made it social. The boys are communicating, talking about their interests and are really excited to go every week. They are also able to practice skills that they are learning through other therapies like speech therapy, and adding on to those skills that they are learning elsewhere in a really safe environment.” – Parent
“I like to socialise with people through something. That’s something that you get to do at The Lab, especially with people you don’t know. Chucked in a room with people you don’t know and you can socialise with them through Minecraft and Roblox and like weeks later you go, Hey, I want to be this guys friend. you know. I definitely have a good time when I go there.” – Participant
To find out more and to join a club near you, please visit The Lab’s website.