TV shows linked to autism?

Back in the days when I questioned all sorts of things that may have caused Raiyan’s speech delay, one thing that I grew very suspicious of was television, in particular the DVDs that he was watching from early on as 10 months: Baby Einstein.

What first brought my attention to the possibility of television causing a delay in speech was after Jeff read an article saying that it seems to be more than a coincidence that the rise in autism rates has occurred simultaneously with the introduction of cable or satellite TV and children shows easily found in hour long DVDs or VCDs. The argument is that when children watch TV for such prolonged periods, they get used to not having the need to respond when spoken to because a TV is a two dimensional being that does not expect a response or a reaction from the children. When I heard this, it kind of rang a bell and it especially struck me that Raiyan especially liked watching the Baby Einstein range where there was hardly any talking, just scenes of colourful toys etc played with classical music in the background. (This recent article I found was not encouraging either ) I must say that Raiyan was really into his Baby Einstein DVDs, so much so that I bought 75% of the whole range (and they aren’t cheap as you have to order them from Amazon) and he would watch it even at 4 years old! But after reading the article, I was more worried because the Baby Einstein shows was not interactive at all so it is very possible that that could be a cause in his speech delay.

But at the same time, I also liked what Baby Einstein DVDs was doing for Raiyan’s “intellectual” side (at least at that time, I thought that it was the DVDs that at least stimulated it) as he was able to tell which songs are Mozart or Bach or Beethoven (whereas I for the record have absolutely no idea). He was also really good with wooden puzzles and any games that involved problem solving which again, I thought was brought on by him watching Baby Einstein. Of course since I now know that autism is genetics, and some autistic children are known to be savants, he could have been into that kind of stuff even if he wasn’t exposed to the Baby Einstein range.

SO, now that I know that Raiyan is probably the way he is more than others, because of genetics and not television or Baby Einstein, I thought that they would be safe to show Alisha. Alhamdulillah, I can safely say that at 18 months, Alisha seems to be a normal girl, talking well, communicating well, playing pretend well, good eye contact etc etc. I was then surprised to discover that she has NO INTEREST whatsoever in the Baby Einstein DVDs. I’m not sure if it's because we started her at a late age but she just watches 10 seconds of it and gets bored.

So my twist to this story is: for those people that say the Baby Einstein or Baby Brainers range etc are contributing to a speech delay in kids, try considering MAYBE, just perhaps, it’s because children that are bound to have a speech delay anyway, i.e autistic children, are more attracted to watching those TV shows as opposed to “typical” children… Has anybody thought of that?

Overall, I do believe that any child or toddler shouldn’t be overexposed to television anyway. I mean it is common sense that if you put a child in front of the TV for hours and hours, he or she is going to become passive and will eventually get used to not having the need to say anything just like what he or she does when they are watching television. I think 2-3 a hours a day should be acceptable because I also believe that a lot of TV shows out there are very educational and can immensely help a child’s vocabulary and language development.

As for Raiyan, I have naturally banned him from watching anymore Baby Einstein (can you believe he would still watch it now at 4 years old if I was to put it on for Alisha??!!) and any other shows that I find are too “babyish” for him like Blue's Clues or Dora the Explorer. I’ve actually started him on cartoon network to watch TV shows that have story lines and dialogue in them to help him with his imagination and also a better understanding of emotions and feelings. I can’t believe I’m letting him watch Spongebob Squarepants which all this time I swore I’d never let him watch such rubbish!! Hey but it helps him now!


pinkilili said...

I've never actually seen Baby Einstein shows but they really don't sound very stimulating at all. Kind of like Teletubbies maybe?

Have you seen Little Einsteins? It just started here and it's also very addictive, Aaro just loves it :) Emilia actually dubs it for Finnish tv, she's the Finnish version of June. Hee hee!

autismx2 said...

Little Einsteins...... personally i love them and so do my 3boys.
Recently i bought a Little Einsteins book and my slowly becoming more verbal Raiyyan actually pointed out Rocket and said the word "Rocket"!

Pweshes Mama i just read your previous blog about your Raiyan having a meltdown (the term used in the autistic world). I know how you feel.
I guess we all do have our good days and bad days....
I have 2 on the spectrum and i have had my share of meltdowns. Sometimes i wish i can have a meltdown and scream out my lungs just to relieve stress....but what would my neighbours think!!!! Hahaha

But yeah try Little Einsteins... my 2+yrs old Harris loves em and he is singing to the classics and knows renaissance art at his age! Your other 2 babes would maybe benefit more watching Little Einsteins.

Btw, pinkilili i so envy what you have in Finnland. The school services is fantastic!

Pweshes Mama said...

pinkilili, how fabulous is Emilia being the voice of June in Little Einsteins?! That's great! Hehee I hope she can sing better than the normal June.. oh wait is June the dancer or the singer? hehe I forgot!

Yeah, Raiyan was into Little Einsteins too but since Im trying to wean him off things he's used to watching I've banned him from watching that too and start watching other types of prgrammes. I do play classical music in the car sometimes and I still read baby einstein books, especially this one big one called "365 days of baby einstein" (autismx2 have you read that?). It's really brilliant and I find that a lot of things I'm supposed to teach Raiyan is all in that book. I bought it at icklebooks a while back so I don't know if they still have it now. But it's worth it to get from Amazon nevertheless.

Ermm, I've tried to get Alisha to watch Little Einsteins and again, her attention is like 5 mins tops! She seems to be more in puppet characters like Elmo and she likes nursery rhymes rather than classical music.. oh well I guess that's just her right! I'll try and get Addin to watch Little Einsteins nanti ja!

Congrats to Raiyyan for his achievements of pointing at an object AND expressively saying what it is!! WELL DONE dear and keep up the good work! I'm still having trouble making my Raiyan point at something!! And thanks for your words of support about Raiyan's meltdown... I want my own meltdown too but kan control in front of my maids! Karang balik durang karang! then Im really screwed!Hahah

PURPOSE:Hoping for more understanding and less judgment from all.

 To show the importances of early intervention and an evidence based treatment to help reach the full potential of the child.

 Offering other parents hope to have faith in the positive progress of their child.

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