Category Archives: Autism

Posts about Autism and all it’s wonders

Screen Addiction and Autism

Okay, shortly before Christmas I realized we had a problem.  D was screen addicted.  Don’t get me wrong, D and I had battled forever.  Over everything.  Lately it was about homeschool, whether he was going to do it or not and how much, and OT, his only therapy left.  He usually left OT in a meltdown, either running across the parking lot or having to be dragged to the car.  I was at a serious loss as what to do.  I tried rewards, which is what usually caused the meltdowns when he didn’t earn them.

Our daily schedule left much to be desired.  After school, D was able to watch tv and some days that’s all he did all day.  It simply didn’t occur to me to equate some of the behavior issues with television in any way.  The days we’d have therapy I resorted to the iPad in the waiting room, and a couple of days per week we’d be there hours.  Plus, the therapy waiting room had PBS on the whole time as well.  It was an exercise in futility and frustration.  I had long since tried meds, only to be refused behavior meds by our doctor because D wasn’t “severe enough.”

Finally, one day the lightbulb came on.  D was watching tv.  It had been a therapy day, so D hadn’t had as much tv as he usually did.  He had an accident in his pants (not unusual), and refused to go to the potty because the tv was on.  When I insisted he gets cleaned up he melted down.  I realized he was behaving exactly as my alcoholic father had when he didn’t have enough to drink.  I had a screen addict.

So, I had to come up with a solution.  First, we did no screen time for almost 72 hours. It was during christmas break so I didn’t have to battle over schoolwork.  Then it was time to portion it out and make him work for it.  The first rule I made was that he earned 1 hour for completing his schoolwork.  If he didn’t want to do his schoolwork that was fine.  His decision.  BUT he had to accept the consequences which were 2 fold:  1. No screen time earned  and 2.  We added Saturday as a school day so no spending the night at Memaw’s Friday night.

The second was this:

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I had long since wanted to start D on chores, but daily battle was so exhausting that I couldn’t even imagine it.  These days it’s up to him.  Being lazy cost him his screen time.  Younger brother, A, also has chores, but his are less tied to screen time since in general he is more cooperative.

We also came up with a schedule:

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I mostly use the schedule to advert the blame for not being able to watch tv or having to do school or any of the other such things he doesn’t want to do.

Currently, screen time is maxed at 2 hours.  His iPad is given as reward in 30 minute increments and everything on it is educational.  He can’t do video games because his emotional regulation is poor and he gets too upset.  I must say this has improved our life immensely.  We do still have behavior issues, especially since spring is on it’s way.  I never realized how much of his behavior is due to too much screen time until I stopped it.  I will say life without as much screen time is a lot of work.  D doesn’t play a lot and much of my time is spent trying to engage him in an activity.  Fortunately, hubby is understanding about the housework.

Times of Endurance

Spring is coming.  I don’t know it’s coming because the weather is warmer or because the trees are budding.  My son tells me.  He tells me in the way he behaves.  Every spring from early February to July he struggles.  Things that didn’t used to bother him are now minor issues.  What used to be minor issues are now major issues.  Major issues are now screaming meltdowns, complete with aggression.  Spring is now a time of dread for us.

And once again I am staring at the realities of Autism:  medication.  I hate the thought of medicati9881552473_09df711fd8_bng my child.  But as D gets older D gets bigger.  As D gets bigger D hits harder, and this momma who already struggles with Fibromyalgia struggles a little more.  I know it’s time because it affects his life so much that he struggles with everything.  There’s more of all the bad stuff:  perseverating, meltdowns, fixations, aggression.  The sweet little boy who loves to cuddle fades a little and in his place is this unreasonable and unreachable stranger.  So, off we go to the PCP who will recommend a child psychiatrist.

I’ve entered a time of endurance.  It’s not a happy time.  It’s a time of dogged determination.  Like a marathon runner at the end of the race, winded and sweating, focused on putting one foot in front of the other foot.  I start my mantra by telling myself over and over:  “I don’t have to be excellent.  I just have to endure.”  1st Corinthians 13:7 says it all:

“Love…bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

And I love my son.  So I endure.  For his sake and the sake of my Lord.  Who, for some reason, entrusted me with this child.  I hold on to His hand and I hope for the future. I have to believe theres a better future in store for us.  A future that doesn’t include all these struggles.  It’s how I endure, after all.  All of us have times of endurance.  Times of dogged determination.  Times that we just have to get through.  The bible promises so much to those of us who are able to endure:

“You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.”  Matthew 10:22

So, we pray.  We hope for the future.  We endure, and we hold His hand.