Saturday, April 20, 2013

Special Education Saturday - Autism, ADHD, and Visual Input

During a recent training, autism expert Dr. Marilyn Monteiro stated she believed one of the reasons behind the recent rise in autism diagnoses is the prevalence of visual input provided to today's children. Youngsters of today spend far more hours in front of screens than did their parents, or even older siblings.

While this opinion has not been validated by research, here's what we do know:

  • Children with ADHD tend to hyperfocus on video games to the exclusion of all else. 
  • As the number of hours spent playing video games increases, ADHD symptoms worsen in every child. 
  • Those with autism who spend many hours in front of a screen have a reduced motivation to interact with people. 
  • Video is a good instructional tool for these kids, but it must be strictly limited and followed by face-to-face interaction.
  • Television shows and movies that demonstrate poor social skills, rude behavior, or dangerous actions have a stronger impact on these children than their typical peers. 
What can you do?

  • Limit videos and game time to 2 hours per day.
  • Allow your children to earn their screen time by doing chores. 
  • Make sure your youngsters spend time playing outside or interacting with others. 
  • Follow any electronic entertainment with time spent together talking. 
  • Monitor television time, shut it off if the content is disturbing, and have a discussion reinforcing your family values. 
  • Spend time as a family taking walks, playing in the yard, or going on excursions. 
How much screen time do you allow your children? How do you maintain control of their video input?