HELP FOR PARENTS OF CHILDREN WITH ASPERGER'S & HIGH-FUNCTIONING AUTISM

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Aspergers Teens and Computer Game Addiction

Question

I have a 14 year old daughter who was diagnosed with Aspergers. She is currently attending a special needs school. Her main interest is to play games on the computer. She will get onto one of the Internet Multi Player Games and will not want to get off. We have implemented a timer program which only gives her a finite time that she can use the computer before it tells her that the time is up. Once the time is up she then asks us for more time. If we do not give her more time, she blows up into a fit of rage and may throw things or break things or physically bang her head into objects. We worry about our safety and hers when she does not get what she wants. How should we as parents react to this??

Answer

The short answer is download the My Aspergers Child eBook, because all the help you'll need in dealing with your daughter's rage will be addressed there.

The long answer is as follows...

Here are some symptoms or signs of video game addiction as well as computer game addiction to help determine if your Aspergers kids are addicted to computer games:
  • Choosing the computer or playing video games rather than spending time with friends or family
  • Difficulty keeping up with personal responsibilities due to increased hours playing computer games
  • Dropping out of activities such as social groups, clubs or sports
  • Fatigue; tendency to fall asleep in school
  • Irritable, cranky or agitated (withdrawal symptoms) when not playing a video game or on the computer
  • Lying about computer or video game use so computer or video game privileges aren’t taken away
  • Lying to others about computer or video game use
  • Most of their “free time” (non-school hours) are spent on the computer or playing video games
  • Neglecting personal relationships with friends and family to spend more time playing computer games
  • Not keeping up with homework assignments/not turning in homework on time
  • Obsession or preoccupation about computer games or playing video games on a video game console excessively
  • Worsening grades

Here is a self-test the Aspergers child can take to determine the level of game addiction:
  1. Do you become so involved in playing computer games that you sometimes neglect to eat, sleep, or bathe?
  2. Do you ever experience physical symptoms such as backaches, dry eyes or headaches after playing computer games?
  3. Do you experience withdrawal symptoms when not playing computer games?
  4. Do you sneak time to play games, perhaps late at night while others are asleep?
  5. Do you spend most of your time thinking or wishing you could be playing your favorite game or surfing the web?
  6. Has someone close to you, perhaps your significant other, ever criticized you for spending too much time playing computer games rather than spending time with them?
  7. Have you been diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome or experience symptoms of carpal tunnel?
  8. Have you ever said you were sick in order to stay home from school to play your favorite game?
  9. While not spending time on the internet or playing computer games, do you feel angry, agitated, irritable or depressed?

If you are truly convinced that your Aspergers (high functioning autism) teens or kids are addicted to video games or computer games, it’s your job as the parent to get your kids off the computer and off the video game console, providing them ample opportunity for active play and natural exercise in and outside of the home.

Make no mistake, video game addiction is a real addiction and if you are a mom or dad that is concerned about your home-grown video game addict, it’s up to you to parent your kids and closely monitor and limit their gaming activities. Massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG’s) are designed to be addictive.

Video game makers and marketers are counting on people to become addicted to the games! It’s a lot of money in their pockets, and a lot of money out of your pockets. Let your kids whine, cry and complain all they want about placing restrictions and limits on their game use, but be the parent.

One of the effects of kids addicted to computer games is the increase in childhood obesity amongst young kids and teens due to excessive amounts of time spent leading a more sedentary lifestyle (and poor eating habits), amongst other physical, emotional and mental problems associated with too much time being spent playing computer games.

Be the parent of your kids, not their friend. If the video game problem in your home is so bad that you feel your Aspergers youngster is a “video game addict”, or if your kids spend too much time watching television, shut it down and get your kids involved in other activities that encourage and promote active play and that provides more than finger and thumb exercises from video game controls.

Again, if your Aspergers child flips into a rage when computer privileges are withdrawn, then use the disciplinary strategies outlined in My Aspergers Child eBook.


COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said...  Waiting to see the answers. I have the same issue. Except I home school and she won't do her school work. I have tried every approach and nothing is working. She is lost in video games.
•    Anonymous said... Be consistent! Stick to the plan. Hang on for dear life!
•    Anonymous said... Give her time warnings to transition. 15 min, 10 min warnings help prepare them.
•    Anonymous said... My son is not phased at all . Take 1 thing away like video games he just find something else and so it continues
•    Anonymous said... Password the computer so she can't go on.
•    Anonymous said... Prepare to have the computer smashed and other items.
•    Anonymous said... Unfortunately I think a lot of teenaged aspies only get to feel comfortable and popular in their online world doing something that they're usually brilliant at like gaming. I have the same problem here and have yet to work out a solution either
•    Anonymous said... We give our sons plenty of warning but we have had this in the past where everything gets smashed up.
•    Anonymous said... You may be up against the inevitable unfortunately. Some Aspies are fixated with their computers (my son also). I once worried about this also but in my experience taking it away only compounds the situation.

•    Anonymous said… Be consistent with her; when her time is up - her time up. It's probably a bit harder for you as she's a teenager and hormonal. Does she know when the time is going to go off? Can she see it counting down? Maybe if she had prior warning to just bam time's up, that it, that may (or may not) help her transition between playing and having to stop? Just a thought...you know your daughter best
•    Anonymous said… I know this is hard and she is older. We are very stricken with our aspergers child. When he throws a tantrum we send him to his room he can break whatever he wants then it's gone. We also will ground him. If he is throwing a fit over computer time we'll now you have lost it for 24 hours. They do aventually get it. We first started with a warning as time got close to ending g. Gave him consequences if he looses his temper. If he did he was sent to his room and losses the computer for 24 hours. You have to be firm even if it kills you inside
•    Anonymous said… We have an app on my phone called OurPact which cuts out the iPad at set times - regardless of what my daughter is doing. I also use a lock out on the computer so that at certain times she can access it and at other times she is locked out. I found it was the only safe way to regulate her use
•    Anonymous said… We make our son do activities to earn computer/ game time. Every minute he is outside, spending time with the family or anything non computer, he earns equal minutes on the computer. It has been working very well. Also we give warnings as well that his time is coming to an end. When tried the limits on the computer it was set to a specific time and the little booger found out how to change time zones so he could score more time. Hope this helps in some small way.

*   Anonymous said... My son is very attached to his computer time to. Putting limits on him was very difficult as he is intelligent and computer savvy enough to get around any security we put in place. I went so far at one point to un plug the modem and take it with me when I left the house so Internet wasn't possible. His response was to throw our computer hard drive off the balcony. Needless to say there were some consequences. The advice of our behavioral consultant has been to stop focusing on how much time he's spending on the computer and instead focus on making sure he's doing the things he needs to do. He has daily and weekly health, social and education goals with motivation rewards. After that he can game all he wants.
 

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1 comment:

karla schwartz said...

14 is a tough age for girls,even a neuro-typical. My son is a 9 year old Aspie and loves his games, but I've found that his "binges" seem to correlate to time when he is stressed or scared in the "real world " and the game makes him feel safe and in control. There may be things going on that are distressing her and if you can work on that, it may help with the screen time.

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