We bought our 21 yr old Aspie a Cell phone for her 18th birthday and put her on our plan. She was thrilled. Although she has few friends there’s something powerful and in control about owning a cell phone. A key to the world beyond!
What a surprise when we received the first phone bill after she received her birthday present. It was several thousand dollars! She didn’t realize it cost extra to use the internet. Being the computer genius she is, she did all kinds of fun things with that phone. She downloaded lots of games and music and chatted with friends she met on her cell phone internet. Apparently she was up all night playing and downloading with her new toy. She was as shocked as we were with the phone bill. I called AT&T and they wonderfully took all those extra charges off our bill and put a block on her phone so that she could only use it for a phone – no internet service, no downloading or texting.
It was a handy tool to keep track of her and locate her when she just took off. But, a few months ago AT&T took the block off her phone without our authorization. While playing around on her phone one day she discovered she had internet service again so without remembering the consequences she began downloading and texting again. When the $1,400 bill came, I called AT&T and asked why the block was removed. My husband had made some changes with something on our phone and in that change, our block was accidentally removed. So once again they took off all the extra charges and we paid only the regular monthly fee.
She met some guys on “My Space” and gave out her cell phone # and personal info. We had a serious talk about how dangerous that is and how she is only to call mobile to mobile, on weekend or after hours. She was going along pretty good until she met “My Space Mike” on her laptop computer, in another state. She assumed he had mobile to mobile. He didn’t! In looking over her bill she had spent hours at a time, on the phone to him. Our bill last month was over $800. Again I called AT&T and they graciously adjusted the bill and as a consequence I took her cell phone and told her I would keep it until she paid for the $800 bill. (It was after that, that they agreed to drop all the regular monthly fee) I still have her phone.
We got another bill yesterday for almost $400. I called AT&T and they explained that it was carried over from our last bill before I took her phone. Again they agreed to drop the extra charges if I would sign up for “Smart limits for wireless”. It’s only $4.99 a month. I can put blocks on certain numbers, limit the times she can make calls (So she doesn’t spend all night on the phone). I haven’t gone into AT&T’s on-line site to put the blocks on yet, but I will before I give her phone back. I told her I was keeping her phone until I felt she exercised more wisdom in using it.
I don’t believe she did this as an act of rebellion. She is very computer smart and can figure out all kind of technology. It’s in her hands so she makes it work without being able to understand or remember the consequences. Her focus in all centered on that wonderful mechanical toy in her hands. Everything else zooms out the window. While she is so technology smart, basics like handling money, consequences, cleaning a room, personal hygiene etc. just don’t seem to register. She felt bad about the big bill, but does that mean it won’t happen again? Not if I can monitor it closely.
Many folks would say, “But she’s 21, how can you use so much control?” That’s one of the reasons I have guardianship. I believe in giving kids as much freedom as they can handle. When they prove they can’t then it’s time to draw in the reigns. When the Asperger wiring is crossed up and things don’t always connect then it takes a little outside help to stay out of trouble.