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Old 03-19-2012, 02:09 PM   #1
Hasil72
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ASD and video games...HELP!!!

So this may get long and confusing but I'm looking to see what your experiences are with your ASD child and video games. DS (12) is currently PDD-NOS with generalized anxiety, sensory dysfunction, etc. (Just had a reassessment and still doesn't quite fit into the Aspie dx.) We're truly blessed that he's very high functioning and able to be fully mainstreamed with the help of a 1:1. Our current issue, because as you all know, we bounce from one to another, is video games. We try to limit the time on the computer, iPod, DS because our middle school has a computer initiative where every child uses one in class. So basically, he's on the computer all day, every day between 8-3. Lately, he's been lying like his NT peers about his homework being done so that he can have free time on the computer so we took the privilege away. It's only made him want the computer more. When he has free time in class, he wants to be on the computer. His 1:1 says that even while he's doing classwork on the laptop, he seems overwhelmed. Problem with letting him have the extra time other than the lying is it makes him very agitated and causes insomnia because as he says, "my brain won't stop so I can sleep."

Any suggestions?
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Old 03-19-2012, 03:04 PM   #2
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DD14 who has Asperger Syndrome becomes very agressive with excessive computer time and it was adding to less social behaviour. She also used to become very anxious about having homework due to not being allowed to use the computer until she was done homework so not completing homework during school was leading to meltdowns and lots of anxiety. She also had a lot of trouble shutting herself down at night after spending time on the computer in the evening. I finally imposed a rule that other than school work, she wasn't allowed using her computer on school nights at all. It might sound extreme but it's what she needs. She now understand that she needs this but boy she sure wasn't happy at first. We've also found that she needs a low dose of Melatonin about half an hour before bed in order to get to sleep in a reasonable timeframe even without the computer but with the computer the Melatonin isn't enough to get her to sleep.
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Old 03-20-2012, 05:42 AM   #3
bookwormde
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The type of input, both game and informational that a computer can provide, is the most natural "input" for our kids. It is a place where they can truly relax (even if wen they are playing an intense game).

While there is need to teach time management, using computer or other image based time as a take away enforcer is not the best idea. I compare it to starving our kids since the image based input and knowlege is so central to who they are.

The trick is directing it so that a major part of it is "eductional". My DS spends massive amount of time "researching" what ever he in "into", sometimes it is even homework related.

Understanding the lack of value of much of the "homework" for most of our kids and the value of image and computer based time both from a decompression point of view and a life skill and knowlege conduit it a hard on for most parnets who "buy into" the standard educational structure and are not comfortable with broadly modifying it to really meet needs and create maximum larning opportunities..
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Old 03-20-2012, 07:48 AM   #4
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My DS becomes anxious, cranky and can't sleep or even function well if he has not had time with his games and computer. I always limited his games to non-violent and limited his time to a reasonable level, but I never used his computer and video time as a punishment. I always felt it was like making an NT child wear a blindfold and earplugs as punishment. This is were he gets sensory input that he can understand and that is calming to him. He is now 20 and studying game design and production in the community college using on-line classes for now. He is on his computer 8-10 hours a day now! and doing VERY well. I guess all those games do come in handy! I just had to change how I thought about the electronics, they are not a "want" but for him really a "need"
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Old 03-20-2012, 08:54 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bookwormde View Post
The type of input, both game and informational that a computer can provide, is the most natural "input" for our kids. It is a place where they can truly relax (even if wen they are playing an intense game).

While there is need to teach time management, using computer or other image based time as a take away enforcer is not the best idea. I compare it to starving our kids since the image based input and knowlege is so central to who they are.

The trick is directing it so that a major part of it is "eductional". My DS spends massive amount of time "researching" what ever he in "into", sometimes it is even homework related.

Understanding the lack of value of much of the "homework" for most of our kids and the value of image and computer based time both from a decompression point of view and a life skill and knowlege conduit it a hard on for most parnets who "buy into" the standard educational structure and are not comfortable with broadly modifying it to really meet needs and create maximum larning opportunities..
I think you need to consider that you can't generalize so much when it comes to high functioning ASD kids. SOME kids fall into the description you just gave but I would hesitate to say all or even most (you implied both at different times).

What I described doing with my daughter is not some kind of "take away enforcer". We limit computer time to help her. We have observed the same response from her regardless of what she is doing on the computer. I suspect it is the types of sensory inputs from computers as well as blocking out of the various sensory and social inputs around her in the real world that results in the agression and anti-social behaviour from her but that really is just speculation. I just know that even educational computer time can result in her experiencing difficulties. It is definitely much worse with games involving violence (we avoid those completely) and role playing games bring on their own difficulties but computer time in general is an issue for some kids.

She is very visual and much like one of her idols Temple Grandin she does think in pictures. It just seems that the digital images aren't the most effective for her. I think there may be something about the type of light from the screen but again that's just speculation. Lights can easily overstimulate her and/or distract her and/or upset her.

She's an artist as are a few other of her Aspie friends. They all seem to really thrive when they focus on their own particular forms of art. They get their image based time in areas outside of computers. You can visually see the change in my DD's body language as she works on her mangas. Ooops, I forget; she needs new ink, nibs and manuscript paper. Time to go shopping.
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February 2014 AKL: me, DH, DD15, DD13 * July 2013 DL offsite (Tropicana): me, DH, DD15, DD12, DSD30, DSSil * February 2013 WDW Poly: me, DH, DD14, DD12
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December 2009 WDW POFQ: me, DH, DD11, DD9 * February 2009 WDW Pop: me, DH, DD11, DD8 * August 2008 WDW SSR: me, DH, DSD25, DSD24, DD10, DD8
September 2007 WDW Pop: me, DH, DD9, DD7 * April 2002 DLR offsite: me, DH, DSD19, DSD17, DD4, DD1.5 * June 2000 DLR offsite: me(pregnant), DH, DSD17, DSD15, DD2
January 1994 WDW offsite: me, DH, DSD11, DSD9 * January 1992 WDW offsite: me, DH, DSD9, DSD7
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Old 03-20-2012, 08:56 AM   #6
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I can take the criticism, really I can, and I don't "buy into" the standard educational structure however, there has to be a medium. I know homework bores him and I myself view it as tedious monotony in DS's case. I try to explain it to DH as DS believes it in his mind that the hw is done because he started it and probably did it in his head but sees no reason why he should have to lay it down in writing. He's no genius but most things come very easily to him. I understand that the games relax him and allow him to release all the internalized issues of the day but it's almost like give an inch, take a mile. Enough is never enough. It's almost an obsession. We allow the iPod in the morning while he waits at school, he's on the computer all day at school, and typically he can have his choice of iPod/DS/computer after we get home. While docs will argue with me, I feel that's a reasonable amount of time. Not DS. He will perseverate on when he can play again even when we give him a specific time. krisnme, he's the opposite of your DS, any more than that and he becomes very jittery, easily annoyed, and acts out.

So maybe a more accurate question would be, How do you find that balance?
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Old 03-20-2012, 12:12 PM   #7
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Hasil, it really does come down to the individual. Some parents see that their kids need a minimum of a certain amount of time on the computer in order to calm down while others find that their kids can not tollerate more than a certain amount of computer or other digital image time. Those minimum times can vary widely for kids who need a minimum as well as kids who need a maximum. There's unfortunately some trial and error required.

For us, it seems to be working by not allowing any digital time on school nights. We don't have strict rules for non-school nights though I do have her get off electronics at least an hour before bed and I try to just get her outside and active or with friends as much as I can though her preference is to do this less so that's where we're still struggling for our own balance. The absolute on school nights was necessary for us because she would perseverate as well over when she'd be able to have that technology to the exclusion of everything else in life. We have been able to add back in the use of technology in order to be able to write (she's authoring a couple of books) and to read on her nook and that doesn't seem to fall under the category of stuff that makes her perseverate. Again, it's very slow to find that balance that works for us. There is no magic one size fits all answer to what will work for you unfortunately, at least not that I know of.
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Multi-Allergy & Autism Dining Reviews: February 2014 * DL & LA July 2013 * February 2013 * August 2012 * February 2012 * August 2011 * August 2010


February 2014 AKL: me, DH, DD15, DD13 * July 2013 DL offsite (Tropicana): me, DH, DD15, DD12, DSD30, DSSil * February 2013 WDW Poly: me, DH, DD14, DD12
August 2012 WDW FW Cabin & AoA Nemo: me, DH, DD14, DD12, DD12's BFF11 * February 2012 WDW Poly CL: me, DH, DD14, DD11 * August 2011 WDW YC: me, DH, DD13, DD11
February 2011 WDW Poly CL: me, DH, DD13, DD10, DSD28, DSSil * August 2010 WDW POFQ & Poly CL: me, DH, DD12, DD10 * June 2010 WDW Pop: me, DH, DD12, DD9
December 2009 WDW POFQ: me, DH, DD11, DD9 * February 2009 WDW Pop: me, DH, DD11, DD8 * August 2008 WDW SSR: me, DH, DSD25, DSD24, DD10, DD8
September 2007 WDW Pop: me, DH, DD9, DD7 * April 2002 DLR offsite: me, DH, DSD19, DSD17, DD4, DD1.5 * June 2000 DLR offsite: me(pregnant), DH, DSD17, DSD15, DD2
January 1994 WDW offsite: me, DH, DSD11, DSD9 * January 1992 WDW offsite: me, DH, DSD9, DSD7
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Old 03-20-2012, 01:08 PM   #8
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It's interesting as we have some of the same issues with DS.

We feel he gets out of control when he has too much computer time so we limit it and yes, sometimes take it away. We call it detox.

One of you mentions the anti-social aspect of it. When he first started therapy his therapist recommended he get rewarded by more time on the DS or computer or what ever. We said no, that we think giving kids that are anti-social to begin with more time to be anti-social isn't good. My daughter has a DS and my son has a Didj. They get to use them on long trips and once in a great while at home. And this isn't just about ASD kids, I think all kids (ASD and NT) spend way too much time on the computer, video games, phones ipads etc. So both my kids get limited screen time.We don't have computer games on our TV and actually only have one analog TV in the house with no cable or converter that we watch movies on.

We know that being social isn't always easy for him and he needs decompression time and time to be alone and he gets plenty of that but not with screen time. He either goes to his room and reads, plays with his legos or goes down to the basement to ride the bike or walk on the treadmill. Of course since we're having an early and beautiful spring he's been outside on his bike and playing in the back yard.
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Old 03-20-2012, 02:20 PM   #9
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No not all ASD kids gravitate to video, but when they do, as stated by the OP then they are communicating a need, and self adapting and to an extent "medicating". The trick is to find effective content and useful alternatives.
And of course there is often very differnet presentations between girls and boys.
I thought I indicated that directing content was an important component. Certainly gratuitous violence is not beneficial to any child.
Yes every family needs to find their own path, some are more successful than others, but considering all the factors in trying to support a child is paramount, unlike limiting the options, accommodation and adaptations for "administrative convenience".
I have made my share of missteps, as has every family that I work with, and most are from not listening adn observing our children closely, to really understand their needs and genetic preferences.
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Old 03-20-2012, 03:04 PM   #10
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krisnme, he's the opposite of your DS, any more than that and he becomes very jittery, easily annoyed, and acts out.

So maybe a more accurate question would be, How do you find that balance?
I wish I could wave my wand and find you an answer! I don't really know how I found that balance, Lots of time, intuituon, love and patience I guess. I am sure you have all of these, so use them! Relax, there is no "right" answer, just whatever gets you all thru the day with a minimum of stress. I also decided not to worry too much about what other people thought when my Kid always had a gameboy in his hand. I know that is what works for him and they can judge all they want to. You know your child best, take your cues from him.
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Old 03-20-2012, 09:20 PM   #11
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My dd is very much like Bookwormde describes-she needs her videos to relax, center and "zone out". It is critical. She does not like video games but watches videos-over and over. She does this when overstimulated or upset. She likes nature videos like Dr Brady Barr-he's a crocodile expert. She doesn't watch typical sitcoms or tween shows-she likes Animal Planet or Food Network shows.

I would think while your son is at school on the computer he is using it in a utilitarian fashion so it's not the same as his "zone out" computer time.

I would think limiting his time due to "lying" would be appropriate. And for the insomnia, perhaps it is the type of things he is doing on the computer rather than the computer itself? Perhaps if you gave x minutes of free choice and then restricted what could be done on the computer the rest of the time but allowed him access it would work?
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