Video Game Addiction? – Part I the history…

Daniel started playing video games when he was 18 months old. I was a new parent and maybe this wasn’t the best decision – actually, I know for sure it wasn’t the best decision. However, what is done is done. He was amazing in some ways. He could use a mouse to make pictures on the MS Paint program on our first family computer – at 12 months old.

Paint wasn’t enough to keep his attention. He soon graduated to Mario 64 on my then-husband’s new Nintendo 64 consul. I was amazed to watch how he could with such small hands, still work all the buttons and joy stick on the controller. By 18 months, he was fascinated by Mario 64. He would play for hours, if I let him. By the time he was 2, he was an addict. Only Blue’s Clues could pull him away from Mario. I started to worry.

By the time he was two and a half, I was worrying about a lot of things. Toilet training him was difficult. Actually, keeping him clothed was difficult. He had no interest in any make believe games that required interaction with anyone else. He didn’t want to play in his room with his baby brother and me. He didn’t want me to read books to him or go to the park. He would have lived on the couch in our living room in nothing but a diaper.

I tried to limit the tv and computer. Daniel would completely melt down – biting, kicking, screaming. I noticed he really wasn’t progressing in his speech at all. He wasn’t interacting with anyone, not even the children that would come over to play. He was distant and detached. He had no interest in anything outside the electronic world of tv and video games. When I eliminated those, every day was hellish from the moment he woke up until he went to sleep. He had no interest in me, other then for food and even food was a challenge because he was such a picky eater.

I began searching for options, answers, “what I had done wrong”. My pediatrician wasn’t very helpful. Maybe I didn’t give him enough information. I was so scared that I was a horrible parent and that everyone was judging me. Our doctor’s opinion was that he was just a boy and boys develop slower. My ex-husband’s opinion was that I should just try to be Daniel’s friend. When I asked for counseling, his answer was, “If you need counseling, then it is broken beyond repair.” I was at my wit’s end.

I started searching on-line. There wasn’t much out there yet but I did find some information on how to work with my son when he melted down. I started using some of the techniques suggested. When Daniel melted down, I would hold him so he couldn’t hurt me or himself. I would calmly and in a quiet voice tell him it was ok and that he could stop and that I loved him. Very slowly, we began making progress.

We have come a long way. However, video games have been a reoccurring problem. Daniel has struggled to balance video games and life. For a long time, he could hardly get himself to stop playing when he needed to use the bathroom, let alone eat. Daniel has lied about his playing, been caught playing under the covers at 2 in the morning. He has forgone sleep to play.  The only thing he has never done is lie about being sick so he could stay home from school to play. There have been very long, long stretches where he couldn’t have any video games at all.

Tomorrow – Part II Video Game Addiction? Part II – the Study and the Conclusion.

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About aspergersmom

I am a 35 year old woman. I am the wife of an amazing man, who keeps me sane. As a recent California/Florida transplant to the midwest and the mother to a combined family of 6 children; 3 boys, 3 girls, my life is an adventure. I blog and raise our family with my best friend.
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8 Responses to Video Game Addiction? – Part I the history…

  1. You may be interested in visiting the reSTART Internet Addiction Recovery Program website. There is a link to an article on the website concerning the connection between Asperger’s and Video Game Addiction and other helpful information and resources.

    • aspergersmom says:

      Thank you Brenda. I actually found the link to the article on reStart when I was doing my initial research. There are a lot of helpful resources at http://www.netaddictionrecovery.com/. The survey tended to seem to be geared toward slightly older children (the survey asks questions about employment, car, cell phone, rent) but allow for younger children as well.

  2. julie says:

    My son who is 10 next week, also has this “addiction” and has done so for many years, having an older brother that used to like video games kind of encouraged this i feel, even when we took him off of the games he will simply pace up and down the hall way and continue to play the games in his mind, making all the relivent sounds and actions. I think with a lot of aspie children they can get fixated on a particular subject, toy or topic. commonly trains for some reason. our kinds have just found computer games. i guess they are a form of escapism and whilst playing the games they get to make up the rules..i think as long as your son realises that he needs to take a break every now and then and maybe find games that can be educational (social skills on role play games, or academically geared games) then it’s not a terrible thing to be fixated on.

    • aspergersmom says:

      even when we took him off of the games he will simply pace up and down the hall way and continue to play the games in his mind, making all the relivent sounds and actions

      That was my exact experience too! To this day, Daniel plays the games in his head, acting out the motions and making the sounds. He does it while he dries dishes, take a day trip to the beach or sometimes just hanging out in his room. He even completes the dialogue. I agree that it isn’t a terrible thing to fixate on, if you can encourage balance.

      Balance is the key and not just for Aspie children. All of us have to learn to balance our passions and the things that are “required” to make a life. I think it is just magnified for Aspies because of the nature of the disorder (fixating). That is why we don’t take the games away completely. Instead we use it as a teaching opportunity. However, it can be easy as a parent to just let him fixate because it takes off the pressure. Too much can make it even harder to get Daniel back to reality. Since, Daniel is still learning to self regulate. I find myself having to be the annoying mirror often.

      Thanks for stopping by my blog and participating!

  3. Pingback: Purpose Oriented Parenting v. Potential Oriented Parenting | Raising a Child with Asperger's Syndrome

  4. Pingback: Namaste – the First Lesson for a Purpose Oriented Parent | Raising a Child with Asperger's Syndrome

  5. Amie says:

    I’m impressed, I have to admit. Seldom do I come across a blog that’s
    equally educative and engaging, and without a doubt, you’ve hit the nail on the head. The issue is something which not enough people are speaking intelligently about. I’m very happy that I found this during my search for something regarding this.

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