OK, so after last weeks violent incident thought we'd try something else.Son was banned from his PC and mobile but it didn't seem to do any good - he was even sneaking back on.
Apart from that hes been pretty good the last week, and is finally making an effort with some of the charts the counsellor has asked him to fill out. Not brilliant but its a start. So we decided to try a difference approach.
We sat him down and made sure he understood. We praised him that things had improved and he was trying and also for his behaviour. We said there are stil things to improve on but we were willing to give him a chance.
We said, he can have his phone back, and have 3 hours a day on his PC.
BUT, and we wrote this down there were some basic rules which he agreed were fair. We said if rules were broken then PC/mobile would be removed for at time again. He moaned a bit about the 3 hour limit but agreed he understood and it was fair.
- Mobile stays downstairs at night to resist the temptation of playing games after hes supposed to be in bed.
- He continues with the forms and also reads the books we've bought him.
- No attempting to "forget" how long hes been on PC and exceeding the time
- No sneakily attempting to use mobile/PC after hes gone to bed in the middle of night.
Guess what - less than 24 hours later wife goes upstaris at midnight. Hes in bed playing games on his phone. I just don;t understand how he thinks hes going to get away with it.
Please someone tell me if the approach is right or wrong?
Sounds like progress but self-discipline can be hard. It could even be genuine forgetting (some friends of mine used a timer with their [probably NT] boy). Can you keep hold of the mobile at night?
Yes the idea was that he leaves mobile downstairs. But its difficult to keep on top of everything - he forgets his tablets all the time.
How can you forget that you're not supposed to use your mobile after bed though? I can understand forgetting to drop it back downstairs but to lie in bed when you know you're supposed to be sleeping and you know its against the rules seems a bit strange.
I can't get my head around that he risks it when there are consequences. e.g. 30 mins on phone and risk losing for a week maybe?
What about a time lock safe which will open again in a set number of hours?
Maybe it's a bit like a mental addiction. I'm like that with the internet, and used to be with games on occasion.
Like alcohol - you know there are consequences and it's doing you damage, but when you get tired or lonely or bored, you reach for the bottle. Or it's a fixation. I'm not sure how well behavioural interventions work for alcoholism; what it usually takes is determination and help to kick the habit. Other 'crutch' behaviours may come in (like people becoming addicted to Alcoholics Anonymous), unless you find something healthy to fill the hole... maybe to vary it, something that fulfils same needs for imagination or mental stimulation, but more limited, like a puzzle book. I've been on the wagon, and not touched Twitter for a week.
The situation is probably harder than I realise. If the agreement isn't working, review it, and see what it needs to make it work.
You said that your son "has been pretty good the last week", "finally making an effort", "it's a start", and you mention that he's finally on board with the charts from his counsellor - so why choose now to "try a different approach"?
Wouldn't it be a good idea to let these new behaviours settle in, become the norm, and THEN move to the next step? Give him a chance to be a success for a while before putting more challenges in the way? Rome wasn't built in a day! It's not so much a matter of anything being "wrong" with your new approach but it's looking a bit like just because he gave an inch you've decided to take a mile.
He's a teenager, so he's naturally going to be rebellious, and that has very little to do with autism. He will try to bend the rules or get away with breaking them.
You have to be one step ahead of him. If you don't want him to use his phone, take his charger away or take the battery out. However, games are designed to be addictive, so it will be difficult for a young person to resist playing them. Forcing him to stop playing completely is like making an alcoholic or a drug user stop cold turkey. There will be withdrawal symptoms and a lot of discomfort.
If you throw the book at him for a small infraction, he will likely stop trying. People on the spectrum tend to do better with positive reinforcement rather than punishment.
I don't think your approach is fundamentally flawed, but applying it requires patience and understanding. It would help if he had an alternate activity for when he gets bored or can't sleep. Does he actually have anything else to do other than play on his phone or PC? He might simply need another hobby or interest that can pass the time.
Does your son enjoy jigsaws or lego, my nephew loved his lego set and would spend hours on it, building, gradually ween him off electronic gadgets. Actually I like routines as an autistic person and would often draw up my own rules as a young person. However I like to adapt things at times too, if it don't work and get cross if things change.
Been doing very well this week. Mich better. His behaviour is better and hes really trying. Fair play to him.
It took time but things are improving.
Games for PCs and mobiles are designed to be constantly engaging and addictive so you keep playing and go back to them. When I was younger, I drove my mum to despair for constantly playing video games, but it wasn't because I was deliberately rebelling, they became my special interest and comfort, and to make things worse, my sense of time was and still is awful. As an adult I have coping strategies in place so I don't waste my life away to my interests, but this was only developed during my mid to late twenties. I now set myself a timer if I am going to engage in an interest like video games, or else I risk wasting a whole day to it and achieving nothing else. Whether this is linked to the ASD or not, I find I constantly have to be disciplined with myself and regulate my routines to stop myself falling into bad habits.