My 7 yo ASD son has always gotten stuck on things, where he obsesses about them and can do/think about little else. Our current obsession is playing our new Wii. He particularly likes the Lego Star Wars game. He's lost interest in everything else--even in decorating for Halloween, which is (was?) always his favorite holiday. When he's not playing he just wants to get back to it--when we're taking a walk or visiting friends, he just wants to talk about the game and/or ask when we'll be going back home.
Some of the time he's really enjoying himself and is so excited by the game and his mastery of it, but often he gets so frustrated that he melts down into a tantrum or intense anger. We are unschoolers and try to let ds make his own choices and set his own limits, but I'm finding that it's not working very well with an ASD child who has very little patience or impulse control and tends to think only in black and white terms. For example, he'll play until he gets a headache or stomach ache.
When I suggest that ds take a break or get some distance from the game, he says we should just sell it--if he can't play as much as he wants, then he doesn't want to play at all.
I really don't know what to do--take it away all together, set some strict limits, or just let him work it out. On the one hand, he needs to learn how to moderate his behavior and find the "gray area" in situations, and by taking away the games I don't give him a chance to do that. But in the past when I've tried to limit other obsessions, he just pushes *constantly* to get more--if anything, it creates a bigger obsession. Which is exactly what many unschoolers would say-- he needs to be in control his own choices, and if I set limits it'll make his desire for it even greater.
I want ds to be happy and healthy, and I'm just not sure the video games are contributing to this. How do you teach a child to find moderation in life when it doesn't come naturally?
What have others of you done in this situation?