Steph at "Was this in the Plan" posted about her maternal pride at her son's successes in the gaming world really made me think. You should read her post for yourself, she explains how in this day and age we often need to reassess our concept of "success" and how we parent our teens. The world is a rapidly evolving place and even the youngest of parents finds it tricky to keep up to date with our adolescents. When they are adolescents on the Autism Spectrum it's a whole new ball game....
Parenting in the 21st century is TOUGH, no two ways about it. Parenting teens with AS is incredibly tough. My 16 yr old I can rely on to partition his life sufficiently so the gaming/server hosting/web design doesn't take over completely. (Well I kid myself that's the case!) But the nearly-teen already adolescent Aspie, not so much. He lives his games, and goes in deep..... VERY deep and knows absolutely everything there is to know on his particular game.
Like all those on the Autism Spectrum he's SO visual that gaming really presses his buttons (no pun intended) and fires him up. The visual feedback is so satisfying, and gives immediate satisfaction that persevering at anything else cannot.
He has to be very strictly regulated. We have a wireless and wired network most small embassies would be proud of, with ethernets and all. (Yeah, I really have *no* idea what I'm talking about but it's definitely complicated!) Everyone is externally regulated therefore so there is no obvious personal involvement and my ignorance about the system counts in my favour. These are hard wired rules and restrictions, designed so no blame can be apportioned to the parent at home (me) in the hope that the meltdowns and abuse directed at me for the internet switching off at 8 or 9pm (when some crucial level is about to be completed and autosave hasn't kicked in..... ) is limited. A little anyway. Or at least that's the idea.
We are nonetheless proud of his achievements and when recognised in context they are impressive. He can draw whole complex maps of the Starcraft II worlds long after logging off, has learned some social skills through Minecraft and has built up a better relationship with his older brother through it. He decided to start his own games company, BeaverDamGames (Tag line "Holding back the Competition") and put together an employee contract, downloaded some impressive construction software and has made progress (estimated release date prob. c2024 though...) and even applied online for Venture Capital via Kickstarter in the region of £35K. He sees no boundaries, no restrictions, only possibilities. This positive attitude is impressive and will hopefully carry him far. Despite the challenges life has undoubtedly presented him with, he is finding his own way through.
It's just parenting all that amazing potential, with the ever present seduction of all that is the online gaming world is really overwhelming at times. Which is why reading Steph's post today was so helpful. Sometimes you have to just take a step back, and have a grounded, context based look at the "problem". It may just turn out to be a massive success. And whilst hacking Norton Parental Controls to send his Dad a message back is intensely frustrating, the fear your child might actually grow up to hack the Pentagon is pretty unfounded. To him, it's just another challenge - and living with a "can do" approach to life is a gift, surely?