(Please read and enjoy this post from Jeff, I am happy to include guest posts on my blog, please DM me if you would like to submit one…..Jeannette)
ScienceDaily reports that children with ASDs “tend to be preoccupied with screen-based media.”
“Alex, hear that?”
My 13-year-old autistic soon peers into his iPad as if peering into a crystal ball. “Alex?” I walk over to the couch and see “Teletubbies” on the screen. Alex peers closer; I see his new mustache in the glow of the screen. “Alex, did you hear me?” He grips his headphones as if I had lunged to seize them off him – which I will have to do about 9 tonight, Alex’s bedtime as he nears age 14.
The study by Dr. Paul Shattuck at the Brown School at Washington University looks at how children with ASDs spend screen time. “We found a very high rate of use of solitary screen-based media such as video games and television, with a markedly lower rate of use of social interactive media, including email,” Shattuck says.
FROM: Your father
SENT: Wed April 25 2012, 9:13 p.m.
SUBJECT: Go to bed
Nearly 60.3 percent of the youths with ASDs were reported to spend “most of his/her time” watching television or videos. “This rate appears to be high, given that among typically developing adolescents, only 28 percent have been shown to be ‘high users’ of television,” Shattuck says. As cognitive skills increased and children with ASDs grew older, use of social media increased.
“Dad?” says Alex’s typically developing younger brother Ned. “When can I use the iPad?”
Ned deserves the iPad, too, but the thing keeps Alex quiet in the evenings. I ashamed how much I like the quiet; I know I’m not helping Alex. “Soon, Ned. Alex, let’s hit the bath!”
Alex doesn’t seem too interested in social media. He sits evening after evening in the flow the bathtub faucet, never washing his hair unless I ask him to, unless I dribble the shampoo into his palm and teach him to rub it into his hair with both hands. I asked his teachers to teach him to use both hands for things – aren’t they doing that? Often, Alex sits in the tub and stares to the right. After half an hour or so, I hear the water go quiet and Alex emerges into the living room, usually wearing nothing. Did I mention age 14?
“This proclivity for screen time might be turned into something we can take advantage of to enhance social skills and learning achievement, especially recent innovations in devices like iPads.”
I’m ready to take advantage of anything.
Jeff Stimpson lives in New York with his wife Jill and two sons. He is the author of Alex: The Fathering of a Preemie and Alex the Boy: Episodes From a Family’s Life With Autism (both available on Amazon). He maintains a blog about his family at jeffslife.tripod.com/alextheboy, and is a frequent contributor to various sites and publications on special-needs parenting, such as The Autism Society news blog, and An Anthology of Disability Literature (available on Amazon). He is on LinkedIn under “Jeff Stimpson” and Twitter under “Jeffslife.”