A little back history....Skylar grew up with that same rule and so did Mahala until Kaden developed an interest when he was 4. Skylar, almost 21 attends college and has a successful job working with children on the Spectrum. Mahala is still at home learning with me and like Skylar doesn't seem to have any real challenges on or off the computer. Kaden on the other hand has a problem. Let me explain what we have seen.
In the beginning we just thought he was so darn cute in the big office chair. The headphones were so huge and they squished his little checks together and made him have a fishy face. At that time he showed no real interest in people, his toys or anything else for that matter. But, all of a sudden our boy literally emerged from behind the couch to see what the Big fuss over this box with a screen was all about. We were happy he wanted to do something "typical".
At this point he had just started ABA therapy. He wasn't potty trained, wouldn't let you hold him, never focused his eyes on your face, he was repetitive with movements and with talking. Kaden was a toe walking, twirling kid running scared of any little sound or movement. I remember when his days consisted of numbers and sequences all day long. The fear of water and physical touch was a nightmare to navigate during bath time. He was totally disconnected with the outside world.
So, A few hours a day of Video games became a little bit of heaven for not only me, but the whole family. It became the only reinforcement that worked during his 30 hours of therapy a week. We used it as a reward for participating in therapy and for doing things that were way outside his comfort zone. A few hours turned into 4 or 5 hour each day and slowly increased over the course of 2 or 3 years to the present. Now he is almost 8 and would spend most of the day playing. When he wasn't playing he was talking about playing. And when he wasn't doing that he was very aggressive to himself and property. Now before you ask, no he didn't play violent, crazy games. Minecraft was his favorite and only game. It was okay for him for about 15 minutes and then he would get frustrated or overwhelmed about something regarding the game. One time he misplaced something in a chest and we spent 3 days going through all of his hundreds of chests looking for the item. Even though in the end it really was only important to him, not really important in the game itself.
For the past year we have been going through a Family crisis I guess you can say. Game time became like a band-aid, because we could find time to deal with what was going on in the Family. Between therapy, the older kids and video games Kaden was taken care of while we healed from trauma that we were going through. During all this we would take away his game play all together because of behavior and within a day we would see an incredible decrease in negative behavior. He would have little fits of rage, but after several days he was a new person. And then we would give in again after having a few weeks of such amazing behavior. We would think he deserved a little break, only to be slapped in the face with cold reality that video games have this negative effect on him. Now, we have tried several kinds of games and he doesn't seem to get worked up over them. It's the computer games that seem to do it to him, unfortunately it's his favorite game...Minecraft.
Now we are focused and on the road to Family recovery so that means getting Kaden healthy and happy too. Which is why we took the no video games during the week and only for a few hours on the weekend approach.
What we have found after a few days of rage was that he has this major need for physical activity. He's been riding his bike, using the trampoline more and goes outside just to look at stuff and explore he says. He has played with play-dough, painted, actually build with his legos and just snuggle. Here is an example, we had our weekly review with the Therapist we worked with when he had ABA therapy. She was amazed because for the first time in 3 years he sat with us at the table and talked about random stuff from the week. He shared an upcoming movie trailer and even invited her to a game of chess. Who was this kid??? And how can I keep him out here with all of us?
I'm not going to lie, the past few weeks have been some of the hardest to get through. He has soooo much energy that sometimes he just runs around the couch screaming or talking about a subject that we have no idea about. He is in a constant state of motion and silence is something I have not experienced except when I drift off to sleep finally. But, at least he's not in a coma in front of a screen. I'm not saying all kids are like this, but mine is. And I want him to be alive and awake....feeling all that the world has to offer him. And our Family will huddle around him as he experiences life in a whole new way. :)