The IT Kid

This post is now available in the ‘Life with an Autistic Son’ ebook available to download from Amazon.

LWAAS 3d book cover

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23 Responses to The IT Kid

  1. Lynn says:

    Hi, your son sounds lovely, and is lucky to have such parents.
    Wondered if lazer tag might interest him……
    Also, if it were possible to get him his own puppy, wonder if a pup could draw him out to other interests, a bit. A pup is very tenacious in wanting to engage.

    • B's Dad says:

      Are you secretly my wife? She is constantly badgering me to let us get a dog. Must make sure she doesn’t get to see this comment!

      • B's Dad says:

        Aw shit, she’s just seen it!

      • Lynn says:

        but seriously.. if you get it as a young pup (eight weeks), and “tell” the pup (they are pretty smart), THIS is your “boy”, THIS is your “job” (pups want and need a job)…it will pester him until it either draws him out/he has the pup playing nintendo.

        decide on what kind of pup you want, and then “let him pick”, by arranging to meet someone at a dog park with such a dog, and let son fall in love. then he will think he has “picked”..

    • B's Dad says:

      Okay ‘Lynn’ (I know who you really are).

      Joking aside, I think that, although a dog is not right for us at the moment,there are some real benefits. Your advice is excellent and no doubt I will cave in one day!

  2. Being from the ‘old’ parenting groups whose autistic children grew up when Windows 95 was a glimmer in Bill Gates bank account, my children and their friends didn’t get to play on computers. They moaned and cried, had socks full of metal toy cars that they would swing around – boy that hurts when they catch you on the foot; bit things; hit each other; scratched the patio doors with handfuls of sand; tried to leap out of upstairs windows etc… My daughter watched Pingu video tapes and my son (because I didn’t know what else to do) was reading, spelling and counting aged 3. They played outside with chalk, ran around the garden, jumped on the trampoline and basically turned me grey early. I didn’t get a second’s peace or chance to work with one child while the other one was busy. I really wish there had been something like this rather that ‘a book that when you pressed the page, made the noise of a cow’ or ‘hungry hippo’s’ which used to give me a migraine. Like everything that we like – chocolate, wine, TV or gaming it should be done in moderation. Unless you’re off your HRT like me! Then all bets are off and hubby locks himself into his computer room!

    • B's Dad says:

      Wow- you had your hands full! There’s no doubt that the gadgets engage the boys and buy us some time and relative quiet. Thanks for sharing x

  3. Although H is at the opposite end of the spectrum to B, we have similar concerns about computer use. H’s current obsession is the iPad – it’s the first thing he asks for in the morning and the only thing he wants to do when not directly involved in an activity with us. It’s even become part of a game – he knows and accepts the ‘no screens after dinner’ rule that we’ve instituted in a vain attempt to assuage our guilt about all the pre-dinner hours, but loves to ask ‘iPad?’ and hear us say ‘Finished’. We have to go through this ritual many many times most evenings, with his grin getting wider and wider each time. (In fact, it’s been quite positive for his speech, as if we now just raise an eyebrow when he asks, he says ‘iPad finished’ and laughs like a drain.) I’m very aware that while he’s busy scrolling through his YouTube clips, he isn’t interacting with us, or the outside world. He uses the iPad exclusively for YouTube (though he will, reluctantly and under supervision, engage with some of the educational apps we’ve put onto the device) and spends his time flitting through his bookmarked clips, often playing short sections over and over again. He also gets much more ‘stimmy’ while he’s watching – lots of flapping and ‘Eeee – eeeee’ noises. Not good.

    And yet and yet – it’s the only thing he can do independently with any degree of skill. His fine motor skills, so delayed in other areas, are precise and delicate when he’s navigating on screen. It gives us time to do other, necessary stuff. It saves the TV remote control from imploding. Apart from the fact that he’s still watching CBeebies and Fun Song Factory clips, his skills are more age-appropriate than in any other area of his life. It’s a tricky issue, and one I think about constantly.

  4. Mrs pickle says:

    Hi, my little pickle is the same age as your lovely boy and is hfa. He is currently obsessed with bowling on wii sports but whilst playing recreates adventure sequences from disneys epic mickey 2 also on wii. He also makes miis all with their own namrs and birthdays and cosiders them to be his friends. We currently have 1218!!! This worries me greatly but makes him very happy. We are also considering a dog. Have you had any dealings with PAWS. They highly recommend dogs for autistic kids as long as theyre trained correctly. (dogs not kids) but dont necessarily advise a pup. I love reading your blog. Our kids are like 2 peas from the same pod!

    • B's Dad says:

      Is the pro-dog lobby ganging up on me?!
      I smiled at your mii population explosion. I think its a very sweet thing that your boy is doing x

  5. Lydia says:

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while & always appreciate the insight you provide. My son is youger than B & it’s interesting hear how you’ve trodden what I expext to be a relatively similiar path.
    Wondered if you might be interested in this article I lifted from the Hearts & Minds FB page?
    It’s something I’m keen to investiagte for my son (once it goes commercial).

  6. My son is a screen junkie and spends far too much time on both the iPad and computer. It is his escapism and as you mention above, he has control over it. I guess at the end of the day it is a matter of trying to get a balance between the real world and the screen world! I wish us both luck!!

  7. StephsTwoGirls says:

    YouTube is the favourite of my ASD girl too and I’m getting to that tricky stage where I’ll either have to ban it (ha!) or be constantly watching over her shoulder to make sure nothing ‘unsavoury’ is thrown up (you’d be surprised what Pocoyo can actually lead to…). I SO wish we hadn’t started letting her use it. Anyhow, technology is key to her too (no surprise there) and I relaly can’t imagine banning it now she’s had access to it. Fortunately, although she goes through long periods where it is all she wants, she does also have other long phases where she will quite happily role play by herself, or involve us in her games (note the control…). So on balance, I’m very happy with it. As another point, we are now finding technology very helpful in school – for recording her thoughts as she won’t write them down for example, or helping her do spelling tests (again, lack of writing). So all in all, technology works well for us. Long Live ICT!!

  8. Al says:

    Hi, I’m seriously starting to wonder if you are me? Am I blogging in my sleep?!! You always seem to on track with the same issues that we are having with our 5 year old. The IT thing. Yes, I totally get where you are coming from. We actually did the cold turkey thing after xmas, well not full blown cold turkey but we banned Mario for a whole half term. Like yourselves, our son was acting out the games in real life and we were having serious concerns about whether he was losing grip with reality. As it happens, he didn’t bat an eyelid. Our other son was livid though (his exact words, “You are tearing this family apart” !!!!!) Our 5 year old simply moved on to acting out Skylanders and diaglogue from Wii Sports games. This now seems to have stopped altogether. I think it was an extension of his echolalia and he has now returned to echoing bits from books and TV. I am really happy about this, possibly because it makes us feel like better parents!! As one of the other posters has said though, I think on balance use of IT has done him some good. If he does well at a game he wants to share that with me, “Mum. Look. I got a high score” etc. It’s something that he can do independently, without support and he can do it well, whereas many other things he can’t. After the initial obsession, he has calmed down a bit and as well us making sure he does other things, with the onset of spring he is asking to go outside, go to the park and other activities in the house. His ability to focus on books and reading has increased massively too. I don’t know if the two are related but before he started using IT, he simply couldn’t sit still and focus for above a minute, now he can. I’ll tell you something else, the house is a damn sight tidier too! As for the dog thing, I am somewhere between your wife and yourself. Not know for being a dog lover but seriously tempted to have one but a huge responsibility and a great deal of thought needs to go into it, if it didn’t work out my 9 year old would be heartbroken. Maybe in a year or two …..

    Sorry for the huge ramble. As usual your blog is great. I think it should be handed out at the point of diagnosis to all parents 🙂

  9. amberperea says:

    My son is obsessed with the Iphone. He actually comes into my room in the middle of the night and asks, “Iphone?”. It’s pretty cute. 🙂

    Though we also do mandatory “unplug” days. While it may be darling and he actually learns a tremendous amount from the apps, 4 AM is a bot excessive. 😉

  10. Lisa Holmes says:

    I absolutely love reading your blog. I blog about my husband and daughter’s dyslexia and I see a lot of similarities and can empathise with a lot of the things you write about.

    Interestingly, my husband (aged 43 3/4) is a fully-fledged computer geek and gamer and we often joke that he has ‘autistic tendencies’.

    He will often offer me a cup of tea & then get side-tracked on the way to the kitchen, and spend the next hour playing a game, all thoughts of refreshment forgotten!

    However, he, like your son, appears to have some sort of innate understanding of and ability for IT: After repeatedly failing all his exams at school he somehow went on to get a First in Computer Science at university and win the university dissertation prize with the highest mark ever given!

    The big difference however, is that his verbal communication is outstanding and he has the ability to talk to and get on with anyone (although he can get a bit carried away and talk at them rather than to them!)

    And on a different but related note – I’m just on my way home from a Dyslexia Conference in London where I attended a talk on the growing trend for using IT in schools to help children with SEN. The speaker, Myles Pilling, among other things showed us a 3D gaming environment that teachers can use to help capture kids’ imagination and get them writing stories (based in a world that they know, understand, and enjoy). I’ll post some more details on my blog with links to the information as soon as I can….

  11. Becky says:

    Yet another fabulous blog that seems to mirror our lives! Thank you.

    I too have become concerned about how much our son becomes immersed in the world of IT. He acts out scenes, would play on it for hours if we let him and even speaks computer – a cuddle in our house is a “two player snuggle” and you don’t choose something, you “click on which one you want”, even if it’s two boxes of breakfast cereal! And his 5th birthday last month was sponsored by Angry Birds – these birds are a constant part of his life.

    However this term school have grabbed hold of this obsession and are using it with great results. For example he has an Angry Birds reward chart, if he gets 6 stickers he gets 5 minutes on the computer. And then the most amazing thing happened last week- that moment of joy you never could imagine Happening even just 6 months ago. One of my son’s classmates brought in an Angry Birds book purely because he knew our son would like it. And for 25 minutes our son sat with him and two other boys going through the book talking about the characters. This is a huge step for us, our son wouldn’t let others even touch his toys etc, and certainly didn’t want people in his space. So for the possibilities of interaction with his peers about a shared interest, perhaps I’ll have to put up with that annoying game music for a bit longer. Pass me his ear defenders!

  12. Lynn says:

    Not to “Flog a Dog”…
    but just got sent this cute video,
    if you ever do decide to get a pet, it might help you decide betwixt a dog or cat..grin

    best watch it without the kids, or they really will want a dog..

    Teaching a puppy how to use the stairs….and then the cat’s version!!!
    (watch until the end)

  13. Nice site. I recently at 30 found out I have Aspergers. I just “followed” your site, feel free to check mine out! – Great site! Part of my blog is also comedy, but with serious subjects too (latest one is just a review of survey sites, but that’s just a one time post. Also stuff about living with Aspergers). I’m following your site now and check me out at (shameless plug!)

  14. pennie123 says:

    Hi. Your son sounds very much like my soon to be 5 year old. I suggest the game Minecraft. Use it in creative mode. He will gain a lot of skills from playing and will more than likely amaze you even more.

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