Tuesday, April 28, 2009

OMG My Kids an Addict ! Video's Are Like Heroin for Nicky

According to Wikipedia... The term "addiction" is used in many contexts to describe an obsession, compulsion, or excessive psychological dependence, such as: drug addiction, video game addiction, crime, money, alcoholism, work addiction, compulsive overeating, problem gambling, computer addiction, pornography addiction, etc.

As if I didn’t have enough to deal with now I think Nicky is addicted to videos. Barney, Teletubbies, Blues Clues, Pooh Bear, Veggie Tales…whatever! They are like heroine for him. He obsesses so much about getting them some days he can’t think about anything else. Then when he get’s them, he’s okay for a minute, and then he’s in worst shape and wants more!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

On a typical day first thing when he wakes up in the morning or comes home from school, in an rushed voice he says “Mom, Video’s? Big Bird Get’s Lost, Teletubbies, Barneys Big Adventure? If I have a calm body and a calm voice I can earn free time”.

I say “Yes, now stop repeating”.
Ten seconds later in a slighter higher pitch he says “Video’s!? Big Bird Get’s Lost, if I have a calm body and a calm voice I can earn free time. I can have video’s later”.

I say “Nicky look at me. It’s time to be sleeping, it’s not video time. We will talk about it in the morning”.

Immediately in a more frantic voice and only two inches from my face he says “Video’s!? Big Bird Get’s Lost? If I have a calm body and a calm voice I can earn free time. I can have videos later. We will talk about it later.”

I say nothing. Nicky throws a tantrum and we don’t talk about it later we talk about it NOW, because Nicky can’t stop talking about it. He follows me through the house repeating the same script over and over and I try to stay calm  Using all of my best ABA skills I manage to interrupt the pattern with an activity or by feeding him. As soon as the activity is over or his mouth is empty, it begins again. He asks for videos and no matter how I respond it could elicit a slap, pinch or tantrum. Because he’s in his own world stuck in this thoughts about his videos.

On a good day he is able to stop talking about video's and participate for extended periods of time without mentioning them. On bad days he can't stop talking about it and there is no way to get him to stop until he goes to sleep.

Even then I am frequently awakened at 1:30 in the morning to a house where every light is on and cupboards and draws are open (it looks like the entire house had been ransacked) because Nicky was looking for a video, the remote control or an extension cord to plug in his VCR. He's on the prowl for his fix. He wants them, they are all he wants, he is furious when he can’t get them and he will do what he has to get them. YIKES!

When new people come over (including behavior therapists) they say, just let him watch the video, just give him a little bit. He’ll be okay. Not! When he get’s them it 's a Jeckle and Hyde thing. He sits happily for a little while watching, laughing looking like a typical child. Then he get’s a little more excited and he begins rewinding them, over and over and then WHAM… he get's too much exposure his nervous system get's out of whack ...Hyde appears and life is awful! He loses control he begins screaming, hitting, pinching, repeating, having tantrums and he can't be calmed down and it can last 24 hours.

So just like an addict he wants what he wants no matter the cost, he will sneak to get it and once he get’s it, it’s good for a few minutes and then it turns bad.

The behavior dilemma is that Nicky loves video’s. DVDs and videos are everywhere in the world so he has to learn how to deal with them and they are a great positive rein forcer to pull out behaviors we want. Even if we decided to take remove them from the house that would work. Remember the great escape when he took a video and when into different neighbor’s houses in search of a TV and VCR…naked with his blanket.

As a mom, I know they are his very favorite and with a kid who has so few passions it hurts to take it away. So, his behavior team has worked out our version of a 12 step program. Right now it includes a slow process of limited exposure to video’s for a designed period of time that he earns by not having any aggressive behavior. We are also working every day to expand his interest so he can choose for more activities and teaching him how to express his feelings before he implodes.

This is slow going, but going.


  1. I feel your pain. My son is pretty obsessed with video's himself. Not as much as your son, but he has his own obsessions. Usually it's something to do with trucks. Right now his obsession is me drawing him truck pictures. In the pictures he wants the people in the trucks to all wear helmets and have helmets in the back of their trucks.

    He wants them now! I tell him when I can do it and that makes him happy. If I say later, he gets really mad. He loves Barney, Elmo, etc videos too. He really likes the one where Elmo visits the firehouse.

    I feel your pain taking the movies away. I'm too much of a wimp to do that. I know about them getting obsessed and it leading to more obession. ((Hugs)) Hang in there!

  2. Nicky has been obsessed with videos for quite some time now...it seems to be more than just a serial obsession. Videos are his passion! As the mother of a young man who draws nonstop from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., I understand! They are his art & soul!

    I am wondering if it might be interesting to get for Nicky a video camera -- a simple one from Staples, for instance, that has a one-step process that allows him to plug it into his computer's USP so he can begin to "make" and playback his own videos. This might move him away from Big Bird and Barney and onto "The Shadow Show," "The Nicky Show," "The Mom Show..."

    He'd be reaching out socially with a camera between him and people instead of a remote between him and the TV monitor. You may have already tried this, but it's an idea...and he's so good at puzzles and writing. I'll bet he'd be a cracker-jack camera jockey.