The Boy survived the trauma of having no internet connection for two days at the weekend. Apparently a trip to the Lego Shop with mum to spend his birthday money helped alleviate some of the pain.
It's too easy to see the internet and his reliance on it as a bad thing though. And it's too easy for me to mock him for his pain at having to spend some time away from it. But I've come to realise that the internet and new technology means far, far more to him than just Netflix and Minecraft. The internet holds everything for him. It gives him a sense of control when he often struggles with the demands others place on him. And it helps him make sense of a world that often makes no sense.
The internet for children isn't always the big, bad thing that it's made out to be. We've used Google Streetmap for a while now - reassuringly there to take away anxiety and show you how strange, unfamiliar places will look. YouTube for videos of holiday destinations or theme parks so you know exactly what's coming. And nowadays there's countless apps to be used as communication aids, reward charts and visual timetables. But the biggest change in the last few months is that the internet has given The Boy a chance to make friends. And perhaps more importantly, keep them.
You may remember the gang in the playground from this post last month? Well, three of them are his friends now. Proper friends. All online. Voices through the headphones. The Boy can take part in adventures that at one time never seemed possible. They've raced cars together, discovered diamonds, fought creepers and drawn pictures of boobies that he thinks I don't know about. Each evening the screen comes alive and gives him a chance to interact in a way that others take for granted. He seems unable to maintain friendships in the real world - hitting out, touching people inappropriately, not sharing or taking turns. But take away the ambiguity of facial expressions, throw in a volume switch to enable him to turn down loud voices, add some brilliant young lads who are tolerant of those who are different and suddenly he's just one of the boys.
Every now and then the old and new worlds collide. One of the lad's mums got in touch. Her son wanted to send something to The Boy... The thrill of receiving a letter when it's not even your birthday was almost enough. But inside was a card made up of photos of each of his new friends. And The Boy takes it everywhere. His pride and joy has even been to school with him. And each night it sits next to his screen as if they're in the room with him. His friends.
So on Monday after a weekend away from the internet he said he couldn't wait to go online that evening. "My friends will have missed me", he said.
And I actually think they did.
This blog is about bringing up The Boy. He's 12 years old and autistic. It's written by The Dad. It's my words, my view. Other people will think differently and have different opinions. Good.