I was reading a blog the other day, quite an inoffensive blog that I read often. This blog had featured a guest post which was also quite inoffensive, apart from one comment 'Is the iPhone and iPad a trigger for autism?'
I felt angry just reading this. It's just not fair, any mum of an autistic child will tell you that guilt is something that many parents feel despite knowing that it's not our fault. It's true that the exact causes of autism are unknown but it's also true that it has not been proved to be caused, or even triggered by outside sources. It is most likely to be genetic and I'm sure one day this will be proved.
Going back to the iPhone and iPad trigger autism statement the post cites two different documents for back up. One states that screen time for under two year olds can be bad. I cannot disagree with this, I don't think babies should be given ipads or phones to play with or be stuck in front of the tv for hours. Small amounts of television isn't that bad, I know one of my babies loved listening to nursery rhymes and other tunes along with pictures for a short time. It's balancing that with time spent interacting and playing with toys with the child. Of course a child will suffer if screens are the only stimulation they ever get. The other document was a study carried out on children in three USA states and apparently shows that autism rose in states where there was more cable television, or more rain to keep the child indoors. The problem with studies like this is that they don't take into consideration other important factors that could be the cause of autism. So, although children watch more tv and from an early age there is nothing to suggest that this was the actual cause, there are far too many other variables like the families income, diet, race and history.
Many autism parents find devices like the iPad a fantastic way of entertaining and teaching their child. Children do love technology and this also goes for many autistic children. I have used one to keep my child pre-occupied while waiting for surgery, she was much calmer than previous times when there was no distraction to stop her from getting stressed and upset. There are many other times when it's necessary to keep a child (autistic or not) calm and pre-occupied and these devices are ideal.This article calls the iPad a 'miracle' device for autism. I don't totally agree but it can be really useful if you have an autistic child.
My children love watching television too. They watch it together and then go off and talk about it, draw pictures about or even play things they've seen on television. This is normal, this is fun, this is not destroying their childhood, it's enhancing it. I have five children, two have autism, they have all been brought up the same and probably watched the same amount of television. My older children enjoyed playing console games together and my younger children have mastered the computer at a young age. I don't believe any of it has harmed them. Only one of my children (one of the older ones) has eyesight problems. I do get my children's eyesight checked regularly though.
My younger children will enjoy spending time sitting at the computer playing games or watching videos. They learn a lot and laugh a lot. They have regular breaks and don't go on if they are feeling ill. They have probably spent more time in front of a screen that myself, their Dad or their older siblings ever did at their age but I don't think it has harmed them. Take them away and they still know how to play together, they have fantastic imaginations and loads of energy. They are not overweight and do not have eyesight problems.
More importantly my children's autism was not caused or triggered by any sort of screen time and I stand by that until proved irrevocably otherwise.
Let me know what you think in the comments? or on my Facebook Page.