Playing electronic games provides repetition, consistency, and security in your son's life. Also, electronic games are predictable. He can count on the same actions and results every time he plays the games. Children and teens with Aspergers (high functioning autism) want to feel safe and secure in their activities. The electronic games allow your son to follow predetermined rules that result in predictable outcomes.
It sounds like your son is concentrating on electronic games at the expense of his health. He spends time in front of a video screen that could be better spent learning new eating habits and practicing better sleeping patterns.
Check into Aspergers support groups for your son. There might be one in your local area. Support groups give advice on daily living skills and healthy lifestyles. Encourage your son to join one of these groups. He will meet young adults who are his age and may be experiencing similar difficulties with Aspergers. In addition to information, a support group can give your son the opportunity to talk about his feelings about Aspergers and the help necessary for him to cope with adult responsibilities.
Another resource for your son is an Aspergers therapist who can inform and teach your son social skills. A therapist or a psychiatrist might prescribe Melatonin, which will help your son sleep better at night.
Your son is in his late teens, and he is fast approaching adulthood. You can use reasoning and negotiation instead of rules and orders. However, if the excessive computer use continues, you might need to move it into a room that restricts his access to it. Also, the computer can be used as a reward if your son tries new foods and establishes a regular pattern of sleep. Although your son is getting older, there are rules that are still effective in changing his behavior. You should establish those rules in your household.
In terms of nutrition, many Aspergers kids suffer from food allergies, overgrowth of intestinal yeast, and sensitivity to sugar and dairy products. Consult a doctor to see if your son needs to adjust his diet. Changing your son’s diet to wheat-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free products requires patience because teens with Aspergers can be very strong-willed, and implementing change can be difficult for the both of you. See if other family members will adopt a diet similar to your son’s. This will make him feel integrated into the family. Also, read diet books, look into websites, and read advice from nutritionists.
Your son’s sleep patterns can be changed with consistent hours. He needs to establish a time that he will go to bed each evening and get up each morning. If he complains that he can't get to sleep or wake up at a given time, tell him that there are parts of our bodies called circadian rhythms, and they help our bodies rest. If your son can get to bed at a specific time several nights in a row, the circadian rhythms in his body will reset and help him go to sleep and wake up at a given time each evening and morning. Remove all distractions from his bedroom to help him concentrate on rest and sleep.
My 14-year old son is addicted to his iPad, and a forum for Dungeons and Dragons. He's doing great stuff, writing stories and everything, but we also need to start limiting his time on there. It's really hard to do! We're going to try the written, posted schedule thing this summer. My teacher husband will be home to help me enforce it. Sometimes I just get so tired of being the mean one, and my son has more persistence than both of us combined. But we're going to try!
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