Monday , November 18 2019
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Autism Reinforcement & Video Games?

The therapist told us to use my sons obsession as a positive reinforcement. Unfortunately his latest obsession is guns. We let him play Call Of Duty (COD). It does seem to work as a reinforcement but we are concerned about reinforcing this obsession that we don’t approve of.

This is a good topic for discussion.  People on the spectrum often have specific things which they like to explore and involve themselves in deeply.  For some, it is a method for creating order and predictability, and it is often soothing.  Anything that is an activity of choice can be a powerful motivator and reward.

There is NO evidence that exposure to violent shows or video games will make someone violent, just as there is NO evidence that people on the spectrum are more likely to use violence towards others. With that said, I think a couple of things must be considered:

  • Video and computer games have a magnetic pull over some people, and it can be difficult to disengage.
  • Teaching values is core responsibility for parents of all children, and especially children with Autism who may not be able to form their own values without explicit instruction and modeling.  If your family values hold that guns are not permissible, then COD does not fit within the family.

I suggest you have a family meeting where you discuss the values your family stands for.  If COD and gun play does not fit, then they should not be allowed.  Be sure, however, to immediately replace the COD with another motivating reinforcer and calming activity. It may help to involve your child’s therapist in these discussions.  Best of luck!