Autism and games aka why I let my child be a video addict.
Zach is a video addict.
There, I said it.
He is addicted.
I let him be addicted.
It is all my fault.
For a long time years ago I would work daily trying to teach Zach to read, and write.
I did doubt for a very long time he would ever learn either skill.
It was painful and disappointing but I never gave up.
Then one day things changed.
Early on I like most parents used tv and videos to keep him busy while I did other things.
Things like, teach his brothers.
And in the pre melatonin days, sleep. The rest of his time was spent fighting that screen time.
One day during his time screen time.
I was working hard on some school work with one of his brothers and he really wanted me to look up some video for him, but I was simply too busy. I made him wait, after the 3rd or 4th try he gave up.
I got distracted and assumed he was doing something else.
When I went to look at what he was doing I found him watching the video he wanted.
When I asked his brothers if they had helped him.
They all said no.
I was perplexed but let it go.
Later that week he was watching something recorded on the dvr.
His brother set it up for him while I was cooking dinner.
When he wanted the next episode, we were all too busy to change it. So he figured it out himself (I sneaked a peek)
Then the next week, I caught him using the guide to search for something he wanted to record.
He was SPELLING THE WORDS.
At the time I couldn’t get him to spell his name..
It was awesome. I cried.
I was glad we had not given up. Still he fought learning the traditional way.
I noticed this develop a bit more and a bit more until I was very sure he could not only read but if he wanted something he would learn to spell it all on his own.
So we got books with his favorite characters on them.
At first this was awful.
He hated them.
He wouldn’t touch anything from his favorite videos.
No books, no toys, no movies, nothing printed.
But still watched them obsessively on screen.
I was perplexed to say the least.
Figuring this one took some work.
I finally realized the reverse was true too.
I introduced a Clifford the big red dog book, we read it at night he loved it.
So I found a video of Clifford.
He hated it.
Stuffed animal got the same response.
The book however was still a big hit.
At this point I made the connection.
Whatever format something was introduced to him it had to stay in that format.
So if he watched a Mario video or a game it was okay, but a Mario book or toy was a big no no. (Instant meltdown)
The reverse was true too.
It was then it clicked. For him to learn to read and write it needed to involve a screen. I was so pleased to have a new way to teach him!
So, I couldn’t use the books to show him the words, but we could search for them on the computer and that worked! I could get him to type, but not write.
Games and videos became our way to teach reading and writing.
Screen time became the way he could talk.
Even when his voice failed him.
Through screen time I learned all the things he loved.
I learned he could not just read, but write!
I learned that he knew much more than I could have guessed!
Screen time gave me a connection to my son.
It gave me some insight into what he loved, and how very intelligent he truly is.
So he gets the screen time.
If this makes me an awful parent so be it.