Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Videos games and the ASD mind

I just finished reading an article about a Study on video games use by boys.

The study says:
"boys with autism are spending more than two hours playing video games. That’s nearly twice the playing time clocked by their typically developing peers"

The study also claims:
"These results suggest that children with ASD and those with ADHD may be at particularly high risk for significant problems related to video game play, including excessive and problematic video game use,” 

The final quote I will pull from the study is this:
"Attention problems, in particular, are associated with problematic video game play for children with ASD and ADHD, and role-playing games appear to be related to problematic game use particularly among children with ASD.”

I guess the question I have is which came first the chicken or the egg?  Does the prevalence of video games lead those with ASD to be inattentive, or are we boys with ASD normally inattentive, and video games and computers attract our attention, because it is a world full of rules that we can know and rely on?

I don't think that some people who run studies, like this one in Paediatrics, really understand ASD at all.  There have been guys with ASD a lot longer than there has been video games and tv.  There are many ASD boys and girls (like me) that get equally lost in books, card games, music etc.   I used to play lots of video games when I was younger, but before I had any Nintendo, etc i used to sit down on the living room floor and with a deck of cards I would create the most elaborate games, and play them, by myself for hours and hours, until I got hungry, or was told to come to a meal.  I needed that.  I always needed to do something.  Something I could understand the rules to, that didn't change unless I changed it.

I don't purport to understand the NT mind at all, but I know that we guys with ASD can find it a lot easier interacting inside the virtual world than in the real world.   I know that we need to work on our links in the real world, but we also need our oasis.

Sorry for the rant, but I got riled up when I read this, and felt I needed to get my thoughts sorted out, and do this best when I write.

What do you think?

Do video games cause attention problems with boys with autism? Or is it that these boys crave worlds that they can understand?

TigerDirect (CA)

Saturday, July 27, 2013

7 Ways I escape during an #Aspie Meltdown.

I was reading one of my favourite Aspie bloggers posts about how she deals with her meltdowns, and it encouraged me to write about my own.

1. Get on my iPad/iPhone/Mac and read news/twitter.
2. Cuddle any one of my stuffed animal bunnies, especially my 35 year old stuffed puppet FooFoo
3. Listen to music, classical, jazz, or ballad-y music or sing.
4. Write in my journal,
5. Get into my bedroom, with the blinds closed, the lights closed, and tightly under my blankets.
6. Go drive/walk to a body of water and just stare at it and think.
7. Watch movies/tv shows  - Current obsession: Doctor Who

These are all things that I do for and in myself, but I do sometime try to talk with someone too, like my partner.  I like to talk, but I'm not as easy a listener.

What do you do to escape/deal with a meltdown?

Friday, July 26, 2013

#Aspie Overload. How do I stop the World From Turning?

Bike of Burden in Vietnam
I grew up being like Fix-it Felix.  "I can fix it!".

Whenever something wasn't happening or looked like it needed to happen, or if someone I knew had a crisis (usually in my family), I would step up, and take charge.

I volunteered a lot, and did many things. Partially because I felt that it needed to be done, and partially because I liked being in control, and the high that I would get when I actually fixed things or solved a crisis.  However, I had a hard time saying no, or letting others do things. My focus and memory would get worse and worse the more I asked my brain to do, and then I would start slipping on meeting the expectations of someone, and I would start to lose confidence in my abilities, and then I would forget more things, and have more people upset with me.

The more I felt that I was disappointing people, the more I'd go into my turtle shell and my world would come tumbling down around me.  My health would suffer (which is one way now that my wife knows I am depressed or off balance), I would find it hard to sleep, and I would want to get away from everyone. I would be snarky.

Having fibromyalgia has amplified the health/depression reactions since even my body is letting me down from being able to do the things that my heart wants me to be able to do again.  My mind is certainly a lot less sharp (when it comes to focus and memory) than it was before I got sick 5 years ago, and its hard for me to get the energy to want to do things, plan things, take things on again.

I used to think that I was very outgoing, but still a closet introvert.  I surrounded myself with activities and busy-ness that kept me from focussing on any one activity or one group of friends until the last two years of high school. I recoil though at the memories of all the activities that I got myself into that ended so badly, and made keeping relationships even more difficult.

My Aspieness growing up manifested itself in a manic hyperactivity that gave me my nickname "Tigger", and it manifested in seeking the highs from being smart and figuring things out.  It's only now looking back that I see what I needed, what I ended up doing only when things fell apart around me.  I drew strength from the times I had alone, that I could think and talk to myself, and write things down.  I kept pushing myself into everything that required being outgoing, but I would burn out and bring the walls down around me.

Seeing this, looking back, I am starting to begin to see when I am now getting overwhelmed.  Pain is a huge trigger.  So is hunger, and too much sun.  And definitely too much noise (I really hate ambient noise these days).  I don't tend to volunteer to do too much right now, as I know my stamina and focus level is low, and not very predictable.  

I am beginning to feel the change in me as I approach burnout or high tension level.  I am beginning to be able to tell my family. "Warning! Aspie on Meltdown Alert! Take cover!"  And they are beginning to have patience with me to help remove some anxiety obstacles, and help me get my space.

Learning about my triggers and my thresholds of activity is helping me deal with my life better.  Each day is a brand new start, and I am so thankful for my wife who patiently is guiding me through this confusing neurotypical world.  I hope that I can help my Aspie daughters too.