18yo DS spending 12 hours a day with video games

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dmddq
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10 Dec 2012, 2:10 am

Dh and I have an 18 year son old who graduated from high school last June. Over the summer/fall, he had 9 job interviews with various fast food and retail stores. It wasn't until #10 that he got a job as an overnight stocker. The job is not going well. He is given 1 shift per week. I think they are trying to make him quit rather than fire him.

We are having a major issue with him and video games. He easily spends 12 hours a day in front of his computer or the x-box playing games. Now that he is 18 and not in high school anymore, he does not thing we should be able to tell him how many hours to spend per day gaming. He sleeps until 1-2pm every-single-day unless we pound on his door and then stand over him until we actually see him put his feet on the floor and stand up. Then he spends his time in front of the games.

His father and I do not know what to do with him. We are soooo fed up with his behavior. Anyone have any ideas?



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10 Dec 2012, 2:24 am

dmddq wrote:
He sleeps until 1-2pm every-single-day unless we pound on his door and then stand over him until we actually see him put his feet on the floor and stand up


Sorry, I'm not a parent, I'm 17, But I need to reply to this line...

Teenagers are Teenagers. They like to sleep in. Given the chance, and if my body clock wasn't that far out of wack causing me to wake up at 6am every morning, I'd be in bed to at least 12pm.


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Aharon
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10 Dec 2012, 6:17 am

His job is not important to him because he's already got everything he wants for free. If he is not disabled, tell him that legally he's an adult, and if he doesn't want to comply with your rules, he can move out and live as he wishes under his own roof. It'll probably be very hard on him, he may even make some poor mistakes, but he won't learn any other way. Good luck.


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10 Dec 2012, 7:46 am

I'm a 22yro aspie
Even though my interest is with books and science more than games I feel it's the same thing as my mum has spence countless days begging me to do something besides read.
I can spend the day reading in the same spot.

I know this seems aimed towards younger children but maybe you could try bargaining... If he does this then he can play for x amount of time.
I found even if I spent all day reading if mum was trying to distract me it wasn't all that enjoyable... But if I did what she asked the deal was she left me alone for a bit



lady_katie
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10 Dec 2012, 8:40 am

When I was that age and I wasn't complying with the "house rules" my parents would take away my utilities. If my music was annoying them and I insisted on keeping it on, they would turn off my power. If I repeatedly forgot to turn off my lights when not in the room, they would remove the bulbs. One time, I stayed out all night with my boyfriend (I was 21), but that was against the rules, so they turned off my hot water.

It didn't take me long to decide that I wanted to live my life the way I wanted to live it, and the only way that I was going to be able to do that would be to move out....so I did! Eventually I ended up moving back in, and I was much much much more respectful because I had gained an understanding of what my parents went through to keep a roof over my head.

Not saying that is the solution for everyone, but I have AS and it worked for me! Once I learned that I was no longer entitled to things, and the only way to get them was to earn them, I got really serious about getting a career.



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10 Dec 2012, 8:41 am

dmddq wrote:
His father and I do not know what to do with him. We are soooo fed up with his behavior. Anyone have any ideas?

No ideas, just questions.

What exactly is bothering you about his video game habit? Do you have specific concerns about his health or safety? Does it interfere with other family members' ability to do things? Or is it the generic "video games! oh, the horror!"?

The answers make a difference. If he's hogging the best TV (the one where the X-Box is hooked up to) by playing his games, you can essentially "black out" the times where he cannot use the X-Box. Or set a rule that he cannot start playing as soon as he gets up. Start by requiring him to shower, get dressed, and eat a proper breakfast at the table (no Hot Pockets in front of the TV, in other words). Cold cereal made in less than 1 minute, or a fluffy fresh-cooked omelet (made by him, if he knows how), that's his choice. Once he gets used to it and begins to appreciate off-game time, limit it to something like 2 hours in the afternoon and 4 hours in the evening. And so on.

Basically, you can use to approaches, known in psychology as "foot in the door" and "door in the face".

"Foot in the door" is just like what I described above. You create a strict but easy rule he can choose to follow for the sake of peace. (You didn't specify how combatative he gets when you limit game time.) Like my "must eat breakfast" example. Once that becomes the norm, expand the rule while making it easy enough to follow. For example, "must take a 1 hour break for every 3 hours played". Continue doing it until you get the result you're looking for. In the process, sweeten the deal. Sign him up for a live action role playing (like in the movie "Role Models") or laser tag. Those thing have a video game-like feel, but you get to be active. And be reasonable with your goals: you will not go from video games 12 hours per day to 1/2 hour per day.

"Door in the face" is more interesting. Start out by trying to enforce a blatantly excessive rule that you yourself know to be unreasonable. For example, "the X-Box is completely off limits, except for 1 hour on Saturday afternoon". (Be careful with this if he's the combatative type.) Of course, he's going balk and get upset. At that point, pretend to give in (it's part of the approach), and make a slightly less strict rule, like "video games on weekends only". He, of course, will want to play 12 hours a day every day. Keep loosening the rule in increments until you reach your goal, something like "game time is 5 hours on weekdays and 7 hours on weekends". This is the approach tourist vendors use in Caribbean countries, and I guess it works for them.

Hope you find this helpful.



arielhawksquill
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10 Dec 2012, 8:46 am

Uh...if he works the night shift, why shouldn't he be sleeping late into the morning?



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10 Dec 2012, 10:40 am

It looks alot like depression to me. The truth is it's very unlikely that he's gonna ever get a good job without a college education. Did you try talking to a professional to address the depression?


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10 Dec 2012, 10:52 am

It sounds like in your post that your goal is to get off the video games. If that is the only goal, then I can see how an 18 year old would see that as just trying to be a controlling parent.

I wonder if you goal is more like: I want you to do the tasks and steps it takes to become a self-sufficient adult. I am worried that you will be here in my house forever playing video games, not working and one day I will die and you will be homeless.

I also would imagine (though I may be wrong) that you would have no problem how many hours he played video games if he was working more, and doing some chores to contribute around the house. If so, then it is not about the video games, and maybe you need to be clear about what you want him to do rather than what you do not want him to do.

It is hard for this age to balance the rights of adulthood and priveleges of adulthood with the responsibilities of adult hood. You may have to write this out for him to explain your expectations,
I.E.
As an adult you have the right to... (rights - everyone has these no matter what)
As an adult living in your parent's home, you are expected to... (responsibilities)
If you meet your responsibilities as an adult, you are allowed to... (priveledges)
As long as you are meeting your responsibilities, we (your parents) will... (point out what you are doing that you won't keep doing if they don't keep up their end of the deal)

The priveledges include sleeping as late as you want, and spending all your free time on video games (you may not like this as a parent, but is it really such a big deal if he is doing the responsibilities)

I remember at 18, I ate pizza almost every night for 6 months, I spent my money on crap (after bills), I stayed out with friends too late on school nights (college), I kept my room sanitary, but messy. Even when I moved out on my own, I still didn't make wise decisions, clean house, or eat right. I finally started that when I got tired of the sick stomach, constant fatigue, and was embarrassed to have anyone over to my apartment. My mom let it go (but refused to visit my apartment) as long as I worked part time, went to class and made passing grades, and paid my bills. Even those of us who are NT go through this.

There was another thread about this not too long ago, and there have been some threads from the adult children who have AS trying to meet the expectations of the parents. It makes it more difficult because the developmental delay means the person with AS may not be ready for doing all the responsibilities of an adult at age 18. However, they legally have the right to make decisions for themselves as an adult. They are also typically intelligent enough to understand and to compromise as an adult. Does your child have the skills for independence? If not, does your child know he does not have those skills? Does he know what skills he needs? Does he want to be independent? What are you plans for the next several years? How are you working to help him gain those skills? Do you have a transition plan to help him understand the expectations of adulthood in a supportive/learning environment?

If this is just about the video games, then I say get over it. If it is about meeting the expectations of adulthood, then thats where your conversations/discussions need to go.

Best of luck to you



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10 Dec 2012, 11:17 am

arielhawksquill wrote:
Uh...if he works the night shift, why shouldn't he be sleeping late into the morning?


The OP said he's working 1 shift a week.

It is true that if someone is working the night shift, it's unreasonable to expect them to get up early and have a schedule like you, but only working one night a week is debatable.

I would suggest offering him a choice if he wants to continue to live there.

1.) He can continue to live for free, but he has to abide by your rules.

2.) He can start paying you rent, and in return, he can sleep as late as he wants, he can play video games whenever, but he has to hold down a job to pay the rent.



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10 Dec 2012, 1:45 pm

I am not sure the OPs specific conerns, but if he were my son Id be upset that he is wasting his life. 12 hours a day playing vidoe gmes plus sleeping, there is little else left. Working one shift a week, he cannot support himself in the real world.
I cant imagine doing anything for 12 hours a day to exclusion of all else being healthy for anyone.
Unless, of course, he was making money doing that!


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10 Dec 2012, 1:47 pm

lady_katie wrote:
When I was that age and I wasn't complying with the "house rules" my parents would take away my utilities. If my music was annoying them and I insisted on keeping it on, they would turn off my power. If I repeatedly forgot to turn off my lights when not in the room, they would remove the bulbs. One time, I stayed out all night with my boyfriend (I was 21), but that was against the rules, so they turned off my hot water.

It didn't take me long to decide that I wanted to live my life the way I wanted to live it, and the only way that I was going to be able to do that would be to move out....so I did! Eventually I ended up moving back in, and I was much much much more respectful because I had gained an understanding of what my parents went through to keep a roof over my head.

Not saying that is the solution for everyone, but I have AS and it worked for me! Once I learned that I was no longer entitled to things, and the only way to get them was to earn them, I got really serious about getting a career.



How how did they do that with you living under the same roof?

Talk about tough love they did.


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10 Dec 2012, 2:41 pm

A couple of points mentioned in earlier posts that I feel worth repeating and discussing further:

1) It sounds like depression.
2) Note the effect of developmental delays.

And they may well be interrelated.

I'm hearing that the job market is extremely discouraging for young people these days, and that can be tough on anyone. Factor in the additional difficulties of being AS and most likely not really socially ready for the challenges of the adult world, and frustration is inevitable. And frustration can lead to depression.

Things like video games are an escape, and have a very addictive pull (depending on the game, but I'm seeing World of Warcraft and Mindscape being pretty bad at the moment). The closer to depression a person is, the easier it is to get drawn in by the addictive pull. It starts to feel like the only sane thing in your life, the only thing that has any meaning.

Which is pretty darn upside down, but it is what it is.

Just don't count on your son seeing it for himself anytime soon.

But, just in case, start with a conversation about it. Why does he play? What would he rather be doing? How is he feeling about his life right now? Remove all the fight and frustration from the conversation and just dig into what is going on his head. I've discovered that my son, for example, is fully aware that he is on the computer too much and is grateful when we actively schedule things for him that keep him off the computer. If its there, he plays it. If it isn't, he doesn't. If your son has that awareness, you'll be in a great spot for the next step. If not, well, you'll have to play a few cards (like the room and board you provide).

My feeling for your son's age group is that if they aren't working, they should be in school, volunteering, or actively working on some sort of project they might be able to sell. If your son loves computer games, for example, why isn't he creating one? There are major gaming program platforms that are downloadable FREE. Unfortunately, if he's addicted to playing, getting him to work at the computer may be too difficult, so the options of attending classes or doing volunteer work are likely to be more effective. It can simply be a condition of having you take care of room, board and healthcare, he spend so many hours a week in activities you have signed off on. Fair economic exhange.

Overall, I think you are in some of the toughest years for young aspies. There isn't a set protocol at this age, they aren't quite ready for what society expects, but services just are not out there. I wish I had more ideas for you, but hopefully this helps a little. Best of luck to you.


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10 Dec 2012, 3:12 pm

I'm inclined to agree that you've got to look at a much bigger picture here than just the video gaming itself.

I wonder if the expectations both at home and at work are a) not clearly quantified, and b) might be beyond your child's abilities at the moment. I also wonder if your school district might offer adult transition programs for those who have graduated but still need support - I know some do until age 21.

That being said, I still think that it is OK for parents to set boundaries for expected behavior, even for adults, and AFTER you have figured out the problem, I think writing up some sort of contract for what you expect to happen in your own home and the consequences for not following through would be a good idea - maybe some hybrid of the things that lady_katie described.

However, I don't think you can tell your adult child how to spend his free time any more than you could if you took in a boarder. Instead, I'd find a way to ask for something specific in return for your investment in utilities and caregiving and frame it in that way. Be sure to find something you are certain that your son is capable of doing: you want things where he can be successful, to help combat the depression and not add to it.



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10 Dec 2012, 4:16 pm

I should also add that there is a subheading on the Parenting Index (stickied on the top of this board) that may be helpful to you.



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10 Dec 2012, 7:39 pm

Besides working one shift a week and playing video games, is there something else that he would like to pursue in life, a particular thing he would like to study or a particular job he would like to get? Maybe he has no idear what he wants to do post high school, so he just does what he is comfortable with, the video games. Maybe you could help him figure these things out.