A few months ago, however, a new obsession took over his life. He was on a quest to obtain a Nintendo 3DS. It was ALL he seemed to talk about--and to any and everyone he encountered. Well, his doting grandparents made his dream a reality on Christmas morning. Here he is, opening his dream gift:
We have a wii, and all three kids enjoy playing it. We don't have many games, but it is played often. For Christmas, another set of grandparents gave them each a wii game, which probably doubled our collection of games.
All three kids also have Leap Pad 2s. They received download cards for Christmas, allowing them to add more apps to them.
Suffice to say, my kids, like so many, are plugged in. It had not worried me though because all three love books and reading. They seemed to create a healthy balance on their own. It is very typical to walk into any room of the house and find one or all of the kids with books open. We have books, tons of books, throughout the house, so they are always in view and highly accessible. Troy and Laura are very advanced readers, consistently testing far above grade level. I have been proud of their love of the written word.
Suddenly, however, that changed. For Troy, at least. Over the Christmas break, we allowed him to play video games, really, as often as he wanted. It was his dream come true, after all, and he was on vacation. What was the harm, right? I was so naive.
We often have family movie time. One evening, we decided to watch Despicable Me 2. Koby had received it as a Christmas gift. Troy couldn't focus on it and finally asked if he could leave the room. He wanted to play his game. We let him go.
On another occasion, I overheard him tell Tom that he wanted some "alone time." He said he had spent a lot of time with us already and wanted to stay in his room....to play his game.
Now, I know that much of this is very typical. Video games are highly addictive for many people. However, autism takes that typical preoccupation and addiction and transforms it into an obsession.
We decided to limit the play time--especially when he went back to school. I thought we were doing a good job of it. Homework had to be done before any game time, and the game time was limited.
Then, I found this note in his folder:
I also created a new house rule....to earn play time for any electronic device, he and Laura will have to read. One minute of reading equals one minute of play time.
To my dismay, they eagerly accepted the new rule! I was really excited! Troy ran to the bookcase, grabbed a book, and started reading! But then I looked again...he wasn't reading! He was dragging his finger across the page, PRETENDING to read! I don't lose my temper often with my kids, but this about did it for me! I raised my voice and told him that was absolutely unacceptable behavior and if I saw him do that again, he would not get to play his game at all. He quickly apologized and started reading.
I'd love ideas on what you have done in this type of situation!