"Misbehavior" or "Aspergers-Related Behavior"


My Aspergers son will not get off the computer when asked. How do I know if this “misbehavior” is Aspergers-related – or pure disobedience?


I don't think it matters in this case. Aspergers (high functioning autism) is a disorder, but not a license to do whatever you want to do. If he wants to get on the computer, then use a timer. Most often, when an Aspergers child is on the computer, the parent says, "You can stay on for 15 minutes,” but then the next day, the parent says, “You have to get off the computer in 5 minutes” …then the day after, “O.K., just 30 more minutes.” This is very inconsistent! The child knows that if it's your opinion of when it stops, he can use emotional blackmail to get you to change your mind. That's why you should get a timer and say, "O.K., you've got 15 minutes, and when the timer goes off, that's the end."

You can get a computer program that you can load onto your computer, and every so often, it flashes a message across the screen saying, "Time to take a break, you've been on this long enough." It's not the parent saying this, the computer says it – and then the Aspergers child believes it! So find one of those programs. It's the timer that says, “You've got to stop” – not you, the parent.

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook


  1. I am so interested in this topic. Is there really a computer program that flashes that message on the screen? If so what is the name and where can I get for my home and my son's classroom? If not, develop it! I know plenty of parents who would buy it!

    Thanks, Kristy

  2. just read thru this and would LOVE TO FIND A program that flashes a message on his screen!! but the other ideas make sense as well.

  3. My son doesn't get to use the computer or wii very often because even if I set a timer he gets angry when he has to stop. He thinks if he is in the middle (which he thinks thinks he is) he CAN'T stop. Even if our computer told him to stop, he'd yell at it. That program would give him grounds for his argument that the computer can be stupid if it can talk to him. He often thinks it cheats. No games on the computer at my house. That's a battle I will not fight.

  4. The message flash sounds like a great idea, however, I disagree that the Asperger's child (at least mine) would believe that it is coming from the computer. He's savy enough to know that I probably loaded it in.

  5. I have parental controls already loaded in my computer (Windows) that allows me to block or unblock any given hour. I decide whether he can get on at the top of the hour or at the half, and then at the top of the next hour, the computer kicks him off. Easy peasy.
    Of course, he still argues about how often he should get to play....

  6. I think either way he'd be angry as most kids are when told the fun is over. Like any other child though, Asperger's children have to learn to listen too, even though it's harder for them. You have to be consistant and if you say 'it's time to get off' be darn sure you mean it and have him follow through the rules. It's just a fact he'll have to obey a lot of things in life he hates doing, but over time, he will learn to do it, maybe with a lot of sour faces and groans :) I don't think the flash program would have helped with our son but it's a great idea.

  7. I tell my son he has however many minutes on the computer before he starts then warn him he has 5 minutes, then 3 minutes etc which seems to help him. I also tell him, and stick to it rigidly, that if he argues with me about how much time he has or refuses to come off when told he won't be allowed to play the next day and give him lots of praise when he comes off without arguing. If he's very into the computer making it available at a set time could help to make things more predictable and so him calmer, if he knows 4pm is computer time for eg he will feel less anxious about when it's going to happen. I found playing two player computer games was a start in helping him learn to play with his siblings.

  8. Our son really struggled with this, and it was a very unpleasant daily battle, often causing us to be late leaving the house to go anywhere. If we tuned off the tv, it often led to a tantrum. My husband set up a parent control on the computer to automatically log our son off of the computer after one hour. We purchased a "video timer" that operates on 15 minute plastic tokens, which controls our TV, DVD, Wii, etc. He had to insert tokens to operate, and it gives him an on-screen message (5 minutes left, 2 minutes left, and counts down the last minute in seconds) before it automatically shuts off. NO MORE arguing! After about a year, at age 10, we have been able to have him try turning "screens" off when told, knowing that he could earn removal of the "video timer". It worked!


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