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OCD vs. Addiction

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My son's only remaining (major) problem that persists now is his obsession with gaming. If he starts playing, he cannot stop by himself. I cannot (except in rare cases) say, "You have 30 minutes of play time, and then you need to start your work." I always have to get him off, and only can by threatening to issue a severe consequence. Even worse, if he cannot play before doing something else, (if we have to go out, etc) he nearly panics and will often have a complete breakdown. He is 11. Is this addiction worse because of PANDAS? Is this just plain addiction? Could it be a form of OCD? I never really viewed it as such, but it certainly is obsession, and it seems to be "an irresistable impulse to act."

Have any of you had to treat this pharmaceutically? Frankly, the only thing that I think would be effective is removing the darn devices from the house and breaking the addiction. It is the one thing that still causes great turmoil in our home, because it rules and controls him. Thanks for any input in advance!

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My DS13 is also very enamoured of his video and computer games . . . this is his idea of fun and recreation . . . and when the PANDAS OCD is raging, his gaming can become a major sore spot in our house, as well. In our 7 years with these behaviors, I can say that his affinity for technology is REAL, not strictly a PANDAS or even OCD behavior. But, certainly, when he is less well overall, his OCD ramps up and the games can be more problematic. Yes, I believe it is connnected to the OCD component of his PANDAS, and probably also resides some in that set of ADHD and/or autistic-spectrum type behaviors, as well, where the kid has an uncanny ability to focus on what he CHOOSES to focus on, but a real deficit when it comes to focusing on things not of his chosing, either at home or in the outside world or school.

 

First, he will obsess over which game he intends to play the next day (or that very morning, over breakfast); he will talk nonstop about the intricacies of the game, even when his dad and I make it very clear we've heard enough (Aspberger-like symptom). Then, he will set up these entirely self-imposed parameters with regard to how and when he will play his game. First, he has to get all chores and routine tasks out of the way; then, he needs a "decent block of time" in which to become immersed in the game (usually at least an hour). If we have plans later in the day (a birthday party, the movies, etc.), and the implication is that he doesn't have sufficient time in which to play, he can get very aggravated at the circumstances, and it will take him some time to calm down and either resolve to play in the time he has, or chose another activity.

 

As we have with most of DS's sensibilities over the years, we've learned how to forestall any big meltdowns in this regard, mostly be lots of forewarning, planning and reminding. Warning DS that tomorrow he has a doctor's appointment/swim meet/party, reminding him in the morning of his atypical obligations that might prohibit some play time, etc. Then, he always gets a similar warning before we need to walk out the door . . . a half-hour before, 10 minutes before, etc. These reminders/warnings have helped us to set aside meltdowns, and as his health improves, too, they become less necessary over time.

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It's a very hard feeling to overcome . "I'll play one more minute. Maybe if I play another minute, I'll get to the next level. One more time". It's a huge circle. I'll give you my honest answer. If it was me, I'd probably pull it out of the house. You will have great anxiety, but hopefully it will lower over a week or so. Whatever way you decide to conquer this, do it at a time whan you are strong enough to tolerate the anxiety from your son and when nothing big is going on in your life.

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My son's only remaining (major) problem that persists now is his obsession with gaming. If he starts playing, he cannot stop by himself. I cannot (except in rare cases) say, "You have 30 minutes of play time, and then you need to start your work." I always have to get him off, and only can by threatening to issue a severe consequence. Even worse, if he cannot play before doing something else, (if we have to go out, etc) he nearly panics and will often have a complete breakdown. He is 11. Is this addiction worse because of PANDAS? Is this just plain addiction? Could it be a form of OCD? I never really viewed it as such, but it certainly is obsession, and it seems to be "an irresistable impulse to act."

Have any of you had to treat this pharmaceutically? Frankly, the only thing that I think would be effective is removing the darn devices from the house and breaking the addiction. It is the one thing that still causes great turmoil in our home, because it rules and controls him. Thanks for any input in advance!

We have that too, but it is not only with my PANDAS son! <_<

Everyone here seems to think they are "entitled" to some "screen time" every day. As if they're brain will implode if they don't have it.

So yes, maybe PANDAS makes it a little bit harder to stop, but yes, it is a form of addiction.

After years of battling this monster, I've decided they can each have 30' (more on weekends) AFTER the following things are checked off:

1) School work done

2) Practice Piano

3) Spend some time outside (at least as much as you'll be playing of the PC)

4) Pick up your room

5) Put away your laundry

It's amazing if you stick to it how eventually they will say "I'll go outside now", or "I need to practice my piano" all on their own!

PANDAS ds is always a bit later in finishing his schoolwork (we homeschool), but I can see after lunch he'll start thinking of playing his games and just start trying to get things done. It's not me nagging anymore, it's him knowing if he doesn't get it done, there's no screen time.

It's not perfect, but it works for us. Many days we are so busy they don't get any screen time at all, and they'll ask when it's way too late as in "How can we go to bed without it!" I go over all the other (better) things we've done that day. Slowly I want them to realize there are so many better things to do in life!!! It's kind of like dessert, you can have it after you've had your good food, and only in moderation.

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Good sensible stuff, thanks. I have tried some of what you have, and yes, it does work, but it doesn't last I find. I have a lock on the door and it stays locked until he's done everything else, but the dh doesn't help by leaving the door open at night! So i find him in there first thing in morning.

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WE have something similar with my son- He loves his games- I just don't let him play any computer/ video during the week AT ALL. It REALLY helps. No TV until school work is done. I ahve tried to limit TV to 30 minutes a day but I have to admit I have been really bad about that lately b/c I have needed the down time. He gets pretty worked up over TV too. I al really tempted to remove the TV from my house all together but I know that will never happen.

Don't know if it is a PANDAS thing but I definitely have to give him warning before it is time to get off.

Sine his behavior during exacerbation is horrible he has never gotten to play on the computer/ video games while exacerbated- ( we also have not had a new exacerbation since we became aware of PANDAS a month ago) video games and computer games are a privilege not an inalienable right for my house.

Brandy

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When our daughter, 8, is in an exacerbation, we find that TV or games calm her on the surface, but when she comes back up, she is worse than when she went in. During an exacerbation, I have VERY limited tolerance for any screen time & limit it to 30 minutes a day at a time when ALL other work or challenges are done, and at least 30 minutes before bedtime & followed by a bath and reading time. I don't know what TV does to her brain, but I know it is not good. During an exacerbation, there is often no time for TV.

 

Even off exacerbation, our policy for the week is 30 minutes total screen time after all other work is done, including getting clothes ready for the next day . We are lenient on weekends. I agree that it can feel like an addiction - I get cranky myself when I am disturbed from a good show. We do find that being able to tape a show, or pause a game helps. That I am not "killing" the actual event, just moving it to a more appropriate time or limiting it. We do multiple reminders to break her concentration, and had to live through some tantrums about it. After medical treatment, we moved to a really strict policy of any time spent complaining or tantruming about TV or games is then subtracted from the next days screen time allowance. We do occassionally reward with TV or game coupons, but try to limit her ability to earn additional screen time.

 

I love this posting (despite the very valid issue being discussed) - I usually feel like the "meanest" mom here - you guys are really strict too!!!

 

I agree with Vicki - if the issue were this severe, I would likely take it out of the house for 3 months. Not sure if that is realistic for you, but maybe some sort of clock-in system - and if he uses it without permission, then unplug & take it out for a period of time. My dh was out of town for 2 weeks, and I really loved the fact that the TV was rarely on while he was gone. He leaves it on in one room & goes to the next & turns it on again. I think he may be addicted!

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Hi everyone-

 

I just want to add another point of view for those who might be reading this thread....

 

I have always really limited my girls tv time since they were young, and we have no video games. Maybe because of this, or probably because of personality type, they are not that interested in tv. We don't even need rules, really, as they may watch one tv show per week.

 

BUT, during both of their most severe points of exacerbation, TV was a lifesaver. It was something where they could sit still, and forget about their thoughts or worries, actually eat, and sort of even be together. It did not seem to worsen anything for them, and I could actually get a few things done, or just get my head together. I did mostly movies with them (I liked the over 1 hour amount of time).

 

Once they were getting better healthwise- they lost interest in the tv again....

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