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Help me- what do you occupy your HFA dc's with if not gadgets??

(25 Posts)
carlywurly Sun 03-Mar-13 17:07:19

We've had a day of utterly awful behaviour from ds - he's been manic, running around the house causing mayhem. I got up at 7.30 and found him in bed on his Nintendo DS where he'd probably been for a good hour (not allowed) and immediately removed it, and it's gone downhill from there. He's spent the day throwing his soft toys about, knocking over vases and pictures off walls, wrecked ds2's tidy room, thrown massive screaming tantrums and made incessant roaring noises in between begging for the ds back. I haven't given in, but could just cry with exhaustion at a whole day like this.

He is so dependent on electronic gadgets, and if he isn't on one, is incessantly nagging to go on. I really limit his usage, as am increasingly finding that he's blurring things like Mario with reality - it's making him aggressive, where he previously wasn't at all. Usually he's allowed about an hour a day at weekends.

I've tried confining him to his bedroom - where he proceeds to throw everything around, sending him outside to play and encouraging him to read, do puzzles or anything else. We've been on long walks, and out to the park.
It's unbearable, and feels like we're dealing with withdrawal symptoms, it is literally as if he is drugged. I can't seem to explain it to him at all.

As he earned the ds through saving his pocket money and getting a brilliant school report, I'm reluctant to get rid of it altogether, but I need an alternative to occupy him. Lego is brilliant but he'll only do the models once, so it tends to be short lived. I try to send him outside but his lack of common sense means he needs constant supervision. I don't want to resort to tv all day. Help please sad

PolterGoose Argentina Sun 03-Mar-13 17:26:17

My ds is 9 and has Aspergers. He hates electronic gadgets except for his laptop, but even that only gets used to make powerpoints really! Things he does are Lego and all sorts of other construction toys, he will make his own designs based on his obsession of the moment, does your ds have a 'special interest'? Ds uses a camcorder to film nature in the garden which he and dp turn into documentaries, these require a lot of hours work so are a wonderful break for me grin

He reads a lot, draws and writes. He goes on the swing and trampoline in the garden. We had a spell of making and painting Warhammer miniatures. He does watch a lot of documentaries, which is fine by me as they inspire him to do other things.

Sounds mad but I frequently wish he would get into gadgets as he would be more likely to do that on his own, many of his activities require me and dp to be either actively doing them with him or he likes us nearby or we need to be nearby to deal with his temper when things go wrong, gadgets would also give him something in common with his peers.

Somehow the grass always look greener on the other side confused

Ineedmorepatience Sun 03-Mar-13 17:31:53

We have a trampoline in the garden, we go to the park early at the weekend when its quiet. We go swimming for the last hour before they shut as its also quiet. We have a gym ball in the house but obviously that has implications for throwing but I do send her to sit/bounce on it when she is very fidgety.

You dont say how old he is but could the aggression be hormonal?

My Dd3 does spend quiet alot of time around gadgets but is not obssesive about one in particular. She does watch too much TV too.

But having said that, she works hard at school too and needs down time.

I an afraid I dont really limit her gadgets but that is because she swaps around and doesnt really stay in one place for any length of time.

Ineedmorepatience Sun 03-Mar-13 17:32:38

Sorry meant to say "She does watch too much TV though" blush

Dinkysmummy Sun 03-Mar-13 17:36:35

I really feel for you, sounds like a rough day!

Have you tried air fix models? (sorry if it's too old for your DS I didn't see how old he is)

carlywurly Sun 03-Mar-13 17:57:51

Thank you all so much for your suggestions. I wish I could get him to colour or read more, he'll do puzzles but resists anything else. Model making may be a great idea, but he gets frustrated if he can't do anything straight away.

Sorry I think I edited out his age, he's 7, so to an extent, I think some of this is a normal testosterone surge. He and his younger brother are just so boisterous, noisy and silly at the moment. I just feel like I am constantly disciplining them both, and sometimes lose my voice as due to his processing delay, I have to actually yell to get him to respond quickly to instructions if he's likely to do something dangerous/silly. He is the sort of child who would absent mindedly skip into the road, and is highly accident prone. His younger brother is NT, but incredibly demanding in his own way of my attention.

It probably doesn't help that I'm on my own with the two of them (my lovely DP lives in the next town), have been for almost 4 years, and I work most of the week and have no family anywhere nearby to help. I just feel utterly exhausted on days like this. I don't want to see friends, as I don't want to inflict ds on them in this mood.

I can normally cope, have found reserves of patience I didn't know I had, and try to reward positive behaviour. Today I've just had enough of them both and hate myself for shouting at them. I literally cannot hear myself think.

grinnbareit Sun 03-Mar-13 17:58:48

My Ds 8 doesn't really do gadgets but then we have never really been able to afford gadgets blush. He has always turned down the laptop or wii (which is as techie as we get!)

He prefers adventures (basically going for walks and looking for bugs), lego technics, geomags, his hot wires electronic thingy grin, watching anything he can learn from he absolutely loves 'how its made' and TBH so do I!! I can quite easily watch it back to back grin, drawing his inventions, making videos of his train set, he has a box of craft stuff which he can sit for hours making things with.

Marne Sun 03-Mar-13 18:46:48

Dd1(aspergers) is the same, she's on her 3ds now, if she's not on there she is on the i-pad or PC appart from bedtime when she will read a book for an hour. The summer is a bit easier as she will go on the trampoline or play outside but only for a short time. Dd2 (HFA) loves the i-pad but will also play with toys and is happy with a bowl of water to dunk her toys into.

moosemama Sun 03-Mar-13 18:48:49

Ds1 (10, AS) is an absolute gadgetaholic. We limit him to a dedicated slot each day and to be honest, if we let him, he'd spend the rest of the day just mooning around waiting for 'DS time' - as he calls it.

When he was your ds's age he had just been allowed his first ever DS. We strictly limited it to half an hour a day and kept it ourselves to ensure he didn't go on it at other times. Things he used to do the rest of the time back then are similar to grinnbareit, so, geomag, lego, electronics kits etc.

He is similar to your ds, in that he'll only build a lego kit once and has always struggled with just creating things from his imagination, but has recently started having a go, after I bought a job lot of random lego bits off ebay at Christmas and gave him one of the official Lego 'ideas' books.

He also likes Ninjago Spinjitsu, Beyblade and Hexbug Nanos - the latter two are best, because he can play them on your own.

He also likes things like Bop-it and the Addictaball, which again, he can do on his own.

It sounds like a lot, but much of the time he refuses to do anything and ends up antagonising his siblings and generally getting himself into trouble. He'll only do one of the above activities if we specifically suggest it, as it genuinely wouldn't occur to him to actually find something to do.

He does read though, a lot and I'd say his second favourite activity is poring over factual encyclopedia type books, such as the Star Wars Visual Dictionary or the Guinness Book of Records. He has a monthly magazine subscription to Nintendo Magazine (although your ds would be too young for some of the content of that just yet) and used to get the Beano on subscription as well.

How would your ds take to being given responsibility for something? I ask because we gave ds a patch of garden last year and he planted some potatoes there. He really enjoyed the responsibility and the whole digging and watering bit - even though he doesn't actually eat potatoes himself! grin If he likes the idea, perhaps a couple of tomato or strawberry plants might be worth a go and/or maybe a sunflower or two so that he can see how tall he can get them to grow? Ds is hopefully going to do both this year and possibly a couple of other plants as well - he really wants to grow some blackberries, as he was really upset when the overgrown top end of our garden was cleared and all the bramble bushes were taken out. He would obviously need supervising with gardening/growing, but it would get him outside in the fresh air.

moosemama Sun 03-Mar-13 18:50:32

blush That should read 'because he can play with them on his own'. Doh!

auntevil Sun 03-Mar-13 19:01:05

I have a DS1, and I suppose DS3 who sound just like your DS carlywurly . Gadgets is their thing. 1 is dx dyspraxia and dyslexia - with hypermobility thrown in. DS3 is being assessed for dyspraxia and also has hypermobility.
I have to be quite strict at organising physical activities to make sure that they get exercise. I also have to do an activity with them to get them to do anything involving manual dexterity. So out with these times, I let them play gadgets. The proviso on this is that they have to do some time on certain games. They have i-pads and there are educational ones - maths and literacy mainly. They also have to do a set time of reading on gadgets too. Now I know it is not the same as turning a page in a book, but at least it doesn't limit their gadget time to games only!
I agree with the others that summer time and when the days are lighter, that there is more time to find games outside.

moosemama Sun 03-Mar-13 19:07:16

I forgot that auntevil.

Ds has recently managed to wangle an extra half an hour of laptop time out of us in the mornings before school - and by default - also at the weekend. We allow him to do this, but on the proviso that he only goes on one of a list of educational programmes.

He is registered on Maths Whizz and Mathletics, has his Typing Instructor Platinum and we also have Math Evolve and Timez Attack. I find literacy stuff for him to go on harder to come by.

troutsprout Sun 03-Mar-13 19:15:11

Do you have a trampoline?

bochead Sun 03-Mar-13 20:02:54

Argos do a craft trunk for around £15 - hours of entertainment.

We refill with items from craftycrodiles/yellow moon Xmas and birthdays. He's spent 5 hours today making clay models (got a class pack of airdrying clay last year as part of his birthday pressie). Pound shops often have random items like clothes pegs and pipecleaners that can be slipped into his craft trunk as rewards for doing well at school. I encourage the crafts as it's all good for his fine motor skills.

he got a cheapy £25 camcorder and used to make lots of little lego men videos before it hit it's last legs. I'm currently looking for a replacement.

We have a dog & a cat - these create useful diversions when needed. The dog, a park and a picnic is an easy combo now the weather is improving.

Our veg patch was a godsend but the council shut the site down sad.

porridgeLover Sun 03-Mar-13 20:35:16

carly I have little to add but have to laugh as most of the ideas I use are the same as those above.

Lego (like yours, mine will build a model once then its ignored)...getting better at building his own ideas helped by the Lego ideas book.

Walks, swimming especially with a goal e.g. find 5 different bugs, swim 3 lengths. He loves a challenge like that.

Animal care...loves to groom the dog, feed the rabbit. Had a collection of garden worms which he was marvelous to attend to, feed them, water them etc. Would he build a wormery?

Gardening...DS has become obsessed with growing garlic (!) and spends lots of time looking after his plants (!). Also loves learning new cooking skills (though that takes lots of stand-by supervision).

Playdough...he loves the 'feel' of it. So we make our own. That takes up an hour or so.

Science experiments...the joys of bread soda + food colouring + vinegar grin.

porridgeLover Sun 03-Mar-13 20:36:26

Also just to say; I think it will get easier. I went through a horrible shouty phase at that age, but DS has really come on a lot since then.

moosemama Sun 03-Mar-13 21:15:20

Oh yes, porridge - ds absolutely loved his bicarb volcano thingy when he was that age - kitchen experiments were a big hit with him - not so much with me. hmm

porridgeLover Sun 03-Mar-13 22:05:07

grin That and moonsand......v

carlywurly Sun 03-Mar-13 22:15:20

Thank you so much everyone, am calmer this evening. I don't like myself in shouty mode.
I think the gardening ideas especially are fab, and some responsibility might really help. Ds2 does recycling and car washing, ds1 was given leaf raking (back in autumn!) and hoovering I think. Will have a think about something to inspire him.

carlywurly Sun 03-Mar-13 22:17:06

Yes, we do have a trampoline but the novelty seems to have worn off a bit.
Tonight he is camping in his bedroom (tent on the floor) so that provided a diversion!

MareeyaDolores Sun 03-Mar-13 22:29:29

It's possibly a severe mario effect. DS gets like that too, but mario was one of the worst games for it. FIFA 13, brain trainer, the 'girl' games were better.
In general, anything that says 7+ tends to be violent. 3+ are better. I dread to think what the 12+ games are like.

LadyIsabellaWrotham Belgium Sun 03-Mar-13 22:30:11

Agree that the Lego Ideas book and a job lot of random Lego from Ebay is much better value and more creative than the sets.

Stop motion movies are a great idea - either on a cheap video camera or as a smartphone app.

DS adores educational documentaries on Quest - it's an entire channel just for him, and although it's still a screen it's surely more productive than Mario.

Bear in mind that lots of NT children get addicted to screens as well, although ASD then complicates the problem.

carlywurly Sun 03-Mar-13 22:39:04

Interesting that mario is bad. Thinking about it, it's probably the first violent thing he's been exposed to, in terms of fighting baddies. He seems to let it bleed into his reality, and wants to annihilate his little brother.
Will try him on some other games and monitor the differences..

MerryCouthyMows Sun 03-Mar-13 23:48:03

Hidden object games are good - and mystery solving ones, and my main vote goes to Professor Layton games, but older than 7yo, I would say.

ouryve Mon 04-Mar-13 12:58:31

Lego.
Meccano
K'nex (spot a pattern here?)

DS1 spent most of the weekend playing with a big pile of coins. He loves using his computer, but can only deal with a couple of one hour doses a day and even ends up bouncing all over the place and picking fights after that, sometimes.

DS2's just discovered his leapster, and will sometimes play on it until he's bleary eyed. He will also happily put it down himself and go and do something else, or just take a break for a jump, before settling down again.

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