The Pros and Cons of Screen Time for Australian Kids with ASD

Children with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) spend most of their free time looking at screens like TV and video games, unlike the ones who do not have autism. The use of digital devices helps them to process any information easily, which also improves their social adaptability in the real world. 

But did you know that too much screen time also comes with several drawbacks? 

Are you someone who wants to be aware of the positive and negative effects of technology on your autistic child?

To understand the effects of too much screen time on the behaviour and coping mechanisms of your child with ASD, today we will share the pros and cons of screen time and the strategies to reduce its harmful effects on children with autism.

ASD kids using digital device

Pros of Screen Time

1. Improves Communication

Studies show that autistic children tend to use more words and have increased social skills due to TV exposure. This is possible since they get a common ground to interact with other children.

Also, video games are a frequent choice for these kids since they accept this opportunity to interact with peers and feel accepted. According to a qualitative study, video games have a beneficial impact on the communication skills of kids with ASD. Various questionnaires with parents and methods were implemented to understand those high-end devices not only help the children with ASD in interacting with peers but also assist in maintaining their social inclusion.

2. Relieves From Stress

Autistic kids or adolescents are sensitive to a lot of general objects, including high pitched noises and lights. They are delicate towards certain situations and can also become hyperactive with any slight trigger point. 

During these stressful moments, screen time is quite helpful to ease their anxiety level. They can find their comfort in either watching their favourite show or playing video games. Also, the repetitive and predictable interface calms them, be it the same levels of a game or the same video that they like to watch again and again.

3. Assists In Learning 

Digital media is a broad spectrum that produces visual and auditory engagement with autistic children, which further helps them to improve their way of learning. While a busy classroom does not function at the same pace as the child with ASD, they find a comfortable environment and a space with media usage where they can take as much time as possible to grasp a topic. 

However, researchers also mention that high use of media is a significantly greater risk for autistic kids than kids without ASD. 

girl with ASD using digital device

Cons Of Screen Time

1.Negative Effects On Sleeping Pattern

Since autistic kids are often overly sensitive or under-sensitive to sound, sight, touch, smell, taste, and even pain, they are also vulnerable to excessive screen time, which can lead to sleep disturbances. 

The brains of children with ASD are more sensitive and less resilient. And screen time acts like a stimulant that can make them more irritable, more obsessive-compulsive, weepy, and cause them to have inadequate sleep. 

Several articles and studies show that the use of media can help a child with autism in communication skills. However, the overuse of such technology can increase chronic stress, cause emotional dysregulation, induce hyperarousal while disrupting their sleeping pattern.

2. Social And Communication Deficits

As we mentioned before, autistic children are delicate towards social surroundings or verbal communications. The use of digital media helps them to find and create a calm space for themselves. But, at the same time, it makes it difficult for autistic children to communicate in the real world and hinders their brain development. This manifests as impaired eye contact, inability to read body language, delay in gaining language skills, among other social and communication deficits.

While an autistic child might make more friends virtually, he/she can lose the ability to form sentences, face to face communications, and interactions with even family members due to reduced involvement in real-life events. 

3. Higher Anxiety Levels

As a result of screen time, it is observed that there are changes in serotonin regulation and amygdala activity which increases the risk of social anxiety and OCD issues among autistic children. 

4. Developmental Delay

Among several articles, Screen Time And Autism also include statistical methods and research on the risk factors for screen time involved among kids with an autistic spectrum disorder. These studies show that excessive screen time has adverse effects on the social participation and behaviour regulation of an autistic child.

It is not just brain development, but a study also states that overuse of screen time decreases the level of physical activity among children with autism spectrum disorder. And this lack of physical activity can further lead to obesity.

child with ASD using digital device

Other Disadvantages

  • Poor academic performance
  • Reduced problem-solving skills
  • Social behaviour deficits
  • Increase in hyperactivity
  • Reduced cognitive and social-emotional development 

Get Your Strategies Straight

Keeping these advantages and drawbacks in mind, let’s talk about some strategies as well:

Educate Parents 

Often parents of autistic children leave their child alone with electronic devices and implement no restrictions on screen time. In fact, some may as well allow the presence of a TV in their child’s room. 

  • A no technology rule during dinner or no digital devices 30 minutes before sleeping schedule can help your child to understand the healthy timeline of using these devices. 

However, you may have come across a lot more disadvantages than pros of allowing screen time to your autistic child. This is because there are a lot more effective and interesting ways in which you can help your child. 

There is no ultimate cure or medication to rectify brain, behavioural, and neurodevelopmental disorders. However, we would like to share some options on therapies, tools, and resources that can assist your autistic child’s better development. 

  1. i) Use of sensory tools and therapies is one of the most effective methods to capture the brain’s attention. One of those methods is the Tomatis® Method. This method helps individuals with language and speech difficulties, including autistic kids. It involves listening to music (usually Mozart) and voice in real-time that travels through air conduction and bone conduction.
  2. ii) A developmental psychologist or a paediatric psychologist are experienced individuals. They can assist you in the growth and development of your autistic child and prescribe medication for anxiety, stress, and other concerns, respectively.

iii) Therapies like Applied Behaviour Analysis can help your child in communication and social skills, inducing self-care, academic involvement, and working towards reducing problematic behaviours.

  1. iv) Soundsory: A home-based listening program can assist your kid in improving their brain-body functions. A daily 30 minutes exercise works on a child or adult’s vestibular and auditory functions in order to brush up their sensory, emotional, and cognitive development.
  2. v) Forbrain: Ideal for all ages, it trains the brain to improve speech, attention, and memory. From Professional Cellist & Lyrical Singer, Francoise, ‘Yes, we can add Soundsory to help to decrease the sensory sensitivity and regulate the emotions!’ 

Children with ASD, unofficially known as high functioning autism spectrum disorder, are commonly equipped with communication difficulties, social issues, and repetitive and inflexive behaviour. This can lead them to focus on incorrect things, misunderstand information, and even emotional breakdown. All of this can further result in anger, annoyance, and isolation. 

One cannot watch their loved ones go through the trouble of even regulating their own emotions. While there is no cure to this disorder, you can surely work with the Tomatis® Method that provides neurosensory stimulation in order to improve the perception of the autistic person by triggering their attention mechanism.

Australian ASD Kid with Digital device

The Transformation You Deserve

Kids, adolescents, or adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) encounter several challenges in their day-to-day life, given their social and cognitive deficits. Our services via the Tomatis® Method can assist individuals with autism through auditory and listening training. 

The Tomatis® Method involves the retraining of the ear and re-patterning the nervous system with the objective of enabling the ear-brain connections. Among other therapies, spectrum assessments are also conducted by our autism specialists to identify the difficulties expressed through autism by your kid or you. 

We, at the Australian Tomatis® Method, believe that every person with autism has unique characteristics and individuality along with their lifelong neurodevelopmental disability. And through our programs and effective training, we strive to offer the best solutions for your loved ones. 

Contact our Tomatis® professionals in Sydney, Australia today for a consultation where we can discuss the possible solutions and better strategies to deal with your acoustic kid or loved ones.  

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