Help for Asperger's Son

Updated on April 18, 2011
K.C. asks from Springfield, MO
8 answers

Hi, if you're reading this, you may have a child with Asperger's and if so, I salute you! If there is much harder than that i don't know what it is :). Here is my problem.....my 11 year old son has NO interests outside of video games and his IPod. That is all he wants to do....not go outside, participate in sports, go camping with Dad.....nothing! It is almost an addiction, which I don't think is probably uncommon with Aspies; computers are easier to relate to than people. But lately our fights about it are reaching fever pitch. He loses his privileges with electronics on a regular basis for not turning them off when told, and currently I have taken them all away for one month, not only to punish him for his rather nasty behavior lately (throwing things, threatening harm to others) but because I don't think he can handle them.
How else does a kid with issues like this occupy himself? Does anyone else have experience with this, with a child that doesn't cope well with being unplugged? He thinks I'm the meanest parent alive because all other boys his age are allowed to play video games and stuff, but I know these boys aren't acting like him, either. Every day he gets mad all over again because he can't have his iPod back.
He's already on meds for ADHD and anxiety, we are getting back into counseling, but if there are any warrior moms out there with further advice...please share! If you don't have experience with this kind of child, no offense, but your advice might not hold water with me. I've tried every discipline tactic with him short of throttling him!

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

Thanks to all who wrote. Sometimes it just feels good to vent and know that other people have dealt with the same issues or have empathy. Yesterday was the first afternoon my son did not fight with me about his electronics. I do think my taking them away for a month was probably a little long, but his therapist tells me I need to follow through. My son came up with the idea of having a reward chart for not fighting with me. Every day he will get a star, one star will equal a dollar, then when he has a certain amount he will get a Lego set that he wants. I realize I need to reward instead of punish so much; he will respond more.
I will refer back to your posts from time to time. Thank you :)

More Answers

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

M.R.

answers from Columbus on

Our Aspie is 19. Her interests are TV and a computer website where she writes and reads about Narato charachters. She could do this all day, never bathe, eat, watch Myth busters, Animal Planet, the Travel Channel...she would be perfectly happy if she never saw any of us or did anything, as long as she had food. She does enjoy other activites and likes to go to movies, amusment parks, out to eat...but we know several kids who would just assume never leave their homes and who have the screen obsession too.

My advice is that this is a very difficult time, age 11 to the late teens is going to be rough, no matter what you do. Just as soon as you think you have it figured out, it will change. That is kind of the nature of the beast. I do not say this to make you feel bad, but it may get worse before it gets better, and I would really step up seeing his psychiatrist more often, and making sure that you are able to see the psychiatrist as often as he needs too, because we found that she needed a great deal of adjustment durring these years. I would be speaking to the psychiatrist about his mood, most of the Aspies I know will need extensive help with mood in the decade between 10 and 20 years if age, you will see significant improvement.

Cognative behavioral therapy and social skills classes are great too. We did these things on a weekly basis for a long time. Our daughter still has friends from the social skills class, and it may be the first time in his life that he is in a group of kids who all get what he is about. We got lucky. We also found a school that is half kids with ASD and half peers. While we were very excited to have her go to school with peers that would not make fun of her, what we really found was that she finally had a peer group with the kids with ASD. They get it each other in a way that we don't. and they are actually happy and have fun together. It is not what I would call fun, but it is for them, so if you can find some peers with ASD, you may find that he has other interestes too. The good news about it is, you can quit worrying that he will be a lonely hermit who never have friends, because there is a whole community out there that will welcome him, where he is just like every one else. You just have to help him find it. Speech therapists often run these social skills groups, and so do therapists, so start asking around.

As for the behavior, you kind of need to back up. We still cannot do anything long term with our Aspie, she does not have that kind of grasp on the way time passes, and every day is a new world for her. I would make him earn time on his devices. Target the most important behaviors, simple ones that you can say in only a very few words. If you have to explain it, you have lost him. Prove you did all homework...you can play for 60 minutes. No angry tone of voice while getting ready for school...30 minutes. Read a chapter book for 20 minutes...you get the idea. He does not have the freebee taken away when he slips up, he knows exactly what to do to earn what he wants. He won't like it, but if you are consistent, it will work. Rewards, not punishments, and nothing that is not almost imeadiate, they really do not get it that something they did last week is causeing them a problem now.

At the ADDwearhouse they have a device called the Time Machine. You hook it up to electronics, and it takes coins that you dole out and he can have 1/2 hour at a time. That may help.

Tony Atwood is a terrific resource and I like Russel Barkley's tolken econemy too, which is kind of what we use, without the tolkens, because she would just lose them!

I went into her room when she was 12. Took a snow shovel and a trash can, and took everything away. All she had was a bed. She had to earn the things she really wanted back. Getting rid of all the junk she did not care about helped her to organize her thoughts too, and helped her to focus on earning exactly what she wanted.

I wish I had advice on how to make them interested in other things. When they are not, they are not. It is best to go with the flow, because you will be fighting otherwise. They really never give up...unless they want to. Nature of the beast.

Good luck!
M.

5 moms found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

A.B.

answers from Louisville on

We have the same kind of issues with our oldest (9) who is suspected of having Asperger's, although the official evaluation hasn't taken place yet. You've described one of our daily battles to a T. In fact, today, he has already flipped out because--oh the humanity!!--the batteries in the Wii controller are dead and he can't find working ones!

Here are some tactics we have tried with our son. First, he has a time limit for playing. Second, he can earn or lose time for his behavior. Third, he usually has to fulfill certain expectations before he can play any video games for the day. The third thing is one that is a real balancing act. Because video games are his preferred activity, it can be a great motivator, but we have to be careful not to add too many extras for him to earn his time. Right now, we have the following rule for him: he must work out/get exercise for at least 15 minutes before he is allowed to touch a video game; his homework must be completed; and his chores must be done. However, our second condition (earning/losing time) allows us to reward him with the thing he loves. For instance, he can earn an extra 15 minutes to play in the afternoon BEFORE doing chores and homework if he does what he's supposed to do in the morning within a certain time frame. This has worked out nicely. He's even started doing his day's homework assignment in the morning so he has more time free in the afternoon. The exercise requirement has also been nice because he frequently opts to go outside. He often spends a longer amount of time outside than the 15 minutes we ask of him, which personally, I think is great for him both health-wise and helping him develop additional interests (he has added exploring as one of his new interests this spring).

Just from our experience and from reading your post, I would suggest making the rewards and consequences a little more immediate and shorter term. A month is a long time for any child to be grounded from an enjoyed activity and usually loses its significance for both the child and parent as a consequence. If he misbehaves, try revoking privileges for the rest of the day with the option of playing tomorrow IF he acts civilly. Institute a time limit as well, and tell him once that time is gone, it's gone. Help him find additional activities to fill in the empty time slots. Even though he prefers computers/video games, he may discover some new hobbies or interests if he is forced to fill his time differently. If he's anything like our son, he won't willingly branch out, but with some encouragement and boredom, he may stumble on something he likes just as much. The more he can expand his world, the better off he'll be.

3 moms found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

J.N.

answers from Kansas City on

I don' have a child with Asperger's, but my husband and I were recently introduced to a facinating woman, Dr. Temple Grandin. She is a PHD and Professor of Animal Science at Colorado University. Dr. Grandin is autistic and has asperger's. She has written several books on Asperger's and Autism that give valuable insight on how these children think and see the world. Dr. Grandin is very visual. During her presentation there were images flashing on a screen next to her she asked that the slide show be turned off, because she found it distracting. HBO made a movie about her with Claire Danes that is wonderful. If you have not seen the movie Temple Grandin I would rent it and try to watch it with your son. I found her to be a wonderful and inspiring person. Hope this is useful.

J.

2 moms found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

J.N.

answers from Salt Lake City on

My nephew was recently diagnosed with aspergers, but he's been misdiagnosed for years before. (He's 16 now). He also loves video games and computers, sometimes to the exclusion of all else.
He's recently (in the last 2 years) gotten into lacrosse, and it's AMAZING! I know you said your son has no interest in sports, but maybe you haven't found the right one? I know that my nephew doesn't like much else, but something about lacrosse caught his attention.

Another thing I've noticed is that he's been educated a lot about what asperger's is. Like I said, he's a bit older, but maybe you can break it down a bit for your son. My nephew can really talk my ear off about it, but it gives him a sense of control - he knows what's going on now and he can be involved some in decisions.

I don't know if any of this can help you .... I really have very little personal experience beyond what I see with my nephew. But I hope there's a bit that might help.
Hang in there! Pour extra love on him, I know he needs it!
*hugs*

1 mom found this helpful

J.P.

answers from Chicago on

I don't have a child with Asperger's so I will be brief. Have you thought about enrolling him in a camp this summer for children with special needs like your son's. (Maybe just a day camp) We have something available to the students in our school district for children who have difficulties socializing with their peers. I also did a quick search and found this camp in MO:

https://campencourage.org/Home_Page.html (But... it looks like there's a waiting list or lottery for the camp.)

I wish you the best of luck. I have a friend who has a son with asperger's and have taught a few children with aspergers (when I taught second grade and subbed) so I totally can see how raising a child with special needs would be quite challenging. (I hope you don't mind that I responded to your question even though I don't have a child with aspergers.)

1 mom found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

B.C.

answers from Joplin on

I know he is older, but giving him advance warnings helps...say it is almost ____ time, 10 more minutes, then a second reminder at 5, then a 3rd and final ok now it is ___ time. I understand your wanting him to "unplug" I think he needs some help finding other activities he enjoys. Are there books he likes to read? Movies you could watch together? Board games that the two of you could interact together? Maybe he could try some new hobbies? They sell kits at store like Michaels that have everything all in one that are handy. My oldest son loves video games since he was like 8 and yet he still liked to draw quite a bit so I bought him books that helped to encourage that interest. I am not a big fan, but he may be interested in some of those card games the kids play I see them at the Books a million having tournaments and what not, he sounds really bright, I bet he would be great at that.
I know it is hard when your child is different, but if he is happy sometimes we have to be ok with that, I do not know that forcing him to go to a camp or even to just get out of the house is going to make things any better. I think it is right that you enforce rules, I also don't allow the IPOD at the dinner table and get irritated when the Adult in the house does not come to the table because he cannot extract himself from the computer = )
I did give up a while ago on my tv battle....my youngest is on the spectrum and he wants the tv on 24/7...he does not watch it constantly...yet if we turn it off he screams...I say sometimes we have to pick our battles. I wish you luck and hope you get some great advice. Sometimes just having a support network and knowing someone else is going through it too helps.
My daughter is 10 and I think she has a lot of Aspie traits, it does make me sad that she does not have peers that are friends, but at the end of the day she is happy so as I said, sometimes that just has to be good enough.

1 mom found this helpful

J.G.

answers from St. Louis on

OMG. I would have posted sooner but I had to check out that time machine. I am ordering it as soon as I am done typing. My Andy is obsessed with money and video games, win win.

I find with Andy you have to tell him up front what the plan is. If I do anything after he has started playing the games he will lose his temper. We all rode bikes last weekend, he knew this was the afternoon plan on the Wednesday before. Not sure why but knowing ahead makes them happy.

Andy knows that at 7:00 he gets his ten minute warning. It is then up to him to save in that time frame or he loses his progress. I have turned his game off without saving without a whimper from him because he tried to get through two levels in ten minutes and failed.

I only have ADD but I get really!! mad when people throw curves. Thankfully I am very good at my job because I will tell my boss no, I will not do whatever. I have my day planned, my plan is perfect, you cannot mess it up. Seriously it will mess up everything, I will do sub-par work, don't mess with my plan. Tell me about it the day before and I will add it to my work load without missing a beat. I am not sure how to explain it but it goes to the multi level thinking of the ADD. A level is dedicated to dwelling on did I put this in the right spot, did it make me miss something else......it messes up all my work and stresses me to no end.

That is to some extent what goes on in the Asperger mind. I am as far over on the spectrum you can get without slipping over to the Autistic side. I am a trip to be around. :p

1 mom found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

J.H.

answers from Kansas City on

Hello! My name is J. and I am with the Missouri Family to Family Disability and Health Resource Center. We have many resources that may help you: information, referrals, and a parent mentoring program where we can find another mom of a child with Asperger's Syndrome that you can talk with. Please give me a call if you would like to participate--everything is free of charge--###-###-#### or 800-444-0821 or [email protected]____.com
Sincerely,
J. Hatfield-Callen, Information Specialist

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions