Children on the Autism Spectrum and Video Game Obsessions


How can I get my autistic child (high functioning) to do things besides computer and video games? He just does not want to go out and do things!


Many moms and dads speak of the same problem: their youngster spends far too much time on the computer or playing games. Video and computer games are addicting for anyone, but kids with ASD (high-functioning autism) are especially fond of the repetition that can be comforting. 
The games are both predictable and entertaining. While it's important your child enjoys his time on the computer and video, it's also important he get out into the world and remains active.

My advice is to play on his passions, in this case gaming. Find other kids in the area and start a gaming “club” of sorts, where you can rotate homes and have what seemingly is a playgroup with video games. Set limits for the computer that allow him ample playing time, but also allow him to socialize, or spend time outdoors. Video game obsession is common among all kids, and while it can be hard to control, it's not entirely impossible. 
Depending on the age your child is, a part time job reviewing or testing games could be something to look into. Your local community college may even offer smaller, intimate classes for a future gamer, and while getting your child to agree that it sounds like something he may like to try may be a challenge, it also may give you peace of mind that all that gaming is for a good cause.

If you are keen on socialization and activities that don't involve gaming, try to find an ASD support group in the area. This is a great way for both you and your child to meet folks. You can search your towns website, yahoo groups, or (a website for social groups) to find resources in the area that can benefit you. Getting together at parks or museums is one way to get you and your child out of the house and meeting other folks.

When it comes to video games and summer vacation, you'll need to be firm. Giving in to your child sounds [and is] much easier than insisting he get outside for a bit, or partake in other activities. Set limits, stick with them, and both you and your child will enjoy the summer together. 
If you can, try to devise a system that keeps track of your child’s video game time. For every hour that he spends outdoors, or engaged in other activities, he can “earn” 20 minutes on the computer. To some moms and dads, this seems juvenile -- but it works!

Resources for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:

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