I’m sure by now most of you have heard about this crazy new game called Pokemon Go. I didn’t know anything about it until some friends of mine were discussing it on Facebook. Then, of course, I had to look it up and find out what all the buzz was about.
First, let me give you some background so you know exactly where this story is going...
Our son, at the age of 5, was diagnosed with ADHD, ODD (oppositional defiant disorder), autism and anxiety. Whew! That’s a mouthful! Needless to say, we have some issues in our home. One of them being an unrealistic and irrational fear of being outside.
My son does not like to be dirty. He does not like bees, flies, or any other insect buzzing around him, and he questions all the different noises he hears in our neighborhood.
We talked to our psychiatrist about his misgivings for playing outside, and she told us if it became worse she could prescribe him some medication.
Well, let me tell you, it definitely got worse...
“My son does not like to be dirty. He does not like bees, flies, or any other insect buzzing around him, and he questions all the different noises he hears in our neighborhood.”
At the end of kindergarten he hated going outside during recess just in case there happened to be a bee outside at the exact location and at the exact time he was outside as well. It didn’t matter if he didn’t see any bugs when he went outside. Simply the fear of “what could happen IF there is an insect flying around me” was enough to cause tantrums on the school playground.
That same summer he refused to go outside or go to the beach with the rest of the family. I remember one particular sunny day, I brought all three kids to the beach. While his sisters were swimming and playing in the sand, he sat in my lap, with a towel wrapped around himself, ducking and hiding his head whenever he thought he heard or saw a bug fly by him. This was all in the 80-degree heat, for over an hour. It was fabulous. (Enter sarcastic smile here.)
Then came the refusal to go outside for any reason whatsoever. His dad and I took him outside with us while we were doing yard work or planting flowers. He clung to me crying the entire time and yelling that he was scared of the bugs and wanted to go back inside NOW!
We called the doctor, and shortly thereafter he began his anti-anxiety medications.
“This boy, who would ask me to carry him to the van from the house because he saw a spider web on our deck, is now running around outside, by himself, hunting for Pokemon and waiting anxiously to spot one.”
This helped quite a bit. He could now tolerate being outside to play for a short time, usually under 30 minutes. He did not necessarily like going outside for recess, but he was no longer consumed with the fear of a bug landing on him. He could also tolerate walking to and from the van to the house without me having to carry him, most of the time.
When Pokemon Go came along, I had no idea how much a simple game could help him overcome his fear and anxiety of being in the great outdoors. He finally had a reason to face his fear and go outside.
This boy, who would ask me to carry him to the van from the house because he saw a spider web on our deck, is now running around outside, by himself, hunting for Pokemon and waiting anxiously to spot one.
He now says “yes!” when I ask if he wants to go for a walk or spend the day at the beach with his sisters, so he can look around and find these creatures.
Now we can enjoy some family time, walking through the main street of our small town, licking ice cream and window shopping. We can have fun while spending time together, watching our son hunting Pokemon on the downtown sidewalk.
“Thank you, Pokemon Go, for your part in helping to bring our son back to a happy, playful boy who loves playing outside, exploring the world, and finding adventure.”
It’s been so refreshing to look after him as he’s having a blast running around and being outside rather than worrying about what “might” happen if a fly lands on him.
I love seeing my children enjoy life. They’re way too young to start worrying about what might happen or living with irrational fears that keep them stuck, not wanting to take any chances.
Thank you, Pokemon Go, for your part in helping to bring our son back to a happy, playful boy who loves playing outside, exploring the world, and finding adventure.
This article first appeared on Living With Real Joy.
Samantha is a Life and Family Coach who helps women struggling with depression, anxiety, and raising special needs children, overcome these life-struggles so they can experience freedom from chaos, overwhelming peace, and real joy.
She is also happily married to her husband of almost 20 years. Together they have 3 children - 2 daughters and 1 son. Her two youngest have ADHD and anxiety, and her son is also on the Autism Spectrum. She loves all things Pinterest, having date nights with her husband, and family movie nights with the whole family. Life would not be complete without her furry children - 2 cats, Daisy and Oreo, and 1 crazy black lab, Ruger.