TV and children with autism: A passive Problem
A research study out of Michigan found that the higher amount of time children (the sample group was neurotypical) spent in front of the TV, the higher their blood pressure, regardless of their weight. The researchers attributed the spike to common sedentary behaviors that occur while watching TV including snacking on junk “food,” over-stimulation, and sleep loss.
I’ve often discussed the mainstream habits of young individuals being reflected in the microcosm of the young autism population. It is also important to remember that many young people on the spectrum have movement deficits and require PT, OT, and a regular exercise program in order to be moving at a healthy, age-appropriate level. I have worked with many children who are reinforced by watching the same video or TV show over and over and over (and often over again). While this is a viable reinforcer, parents, educators and therapists must ask how it fits into short- and long-term goals, and how much time it is taking away from more productive, healthful activities.
Kids need to move. All children. For children with autism it is often far more complicated to incorporate a movement program. Still, extremely necessary for optimal development now and for life. Returning to an active lifestyle leads to regaining much of our sense of self, our abilities, and our relationships with others.