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Kathy Marshack News

Autistic Teens are Caught Up with TV & Video Games

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Does it feel like your teenager is addicted to TV or video games? That can be a real concern to parents, but especially for parents of autistic children. The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders published a study online about autistic teenagers and their preoccupation with TV and video games. Researchers are concerned that this preoccupation could interfere with important socialization and communication.

After evaluating 1,000 teenagers with ASD, around 60% spent most of their time watching television or videos while 41% played videos games. Interestingly, 64.4% do not use email or chat online. This is largely due to the fact that email, chatting, and social networking require social interaction, which is difficult for those on the spectrum.

Since autistic children and teens are drawn to technology, it can be a beneficial tool if used properly. In a previous blog, I discussed the benefits of using the iPad with specialized autism applications. Research also showed that autistic teens who use social media showed improvement with cognitive skills. A word of caution for parents – if your autistic teen is using social media, help them to use it properly since there are risks involved. Be alert to who their "friends" are and their privacy preferences. You do not want anyone to take advantage of your child especially since they may lack the ability to see genuineness. For more on helping your child develop social skills, click here for some practical suggestions.

In addition to whatever you are doing at home for your child or teen, seek out a therapist who specializes in autistic disorders. They will be able to help you find ways to develop your child's cognitive skills. Contact my office for an appointment if you live in Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington.


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