Autism, also known as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a developmental disorder that affects communication, social interaction, and behavior. It is a spectrum disorder, which means that it affects individuals differently and to varying degrees.
Symptoms of autism typically appear during the first three years of life. Some common symptoms include:
Difficulty with social interactions and communication, such as difficulty making eye contact, difficulty understanding and using gestures and facial expressions, and difficulty engaging in back-and-forth conversations.
Repetitive behaviors, such as rocking, flapping, or repeating words or phrases.
Difficulty with changes in routine or new experiences.
Unusual interests or preoccupations, such as an intense focus on specific objects or topics.
It is important to note that not all individuals with autism will exhibit all of these symptoms, and the severity of symptoms can vary greatly.
There is ongoing research into the potential effects of screen time on children with autism. While some studies have suggested that screen time may have negative effects on the social and communication skills of children with autism, other research has found no significant association between screen time and autism symptoms.
It is also important to note that many children with autism use technology as a tool for communication and social interaction, it is important to consider the benefits and drawbacks of technology use on a case-by-case basis.
It is also important to have a balance of screen time and non-screen activities like physical activities, socializing, and other hands-on learning experiences for children with autism.
Tips for managing screen time for autistic children
Set clear boundaries and guidelines for screen time, including specific times of the day when screens can be used, and how long screens can be used for.
Create a visual schedule for screen time, so that children know when they will have access to screens, and when screens will be turned off.
Use technology as a tool for communication and social interaction. For example, video-calling with family and friends, or social stories apps to practice social skills.
Encourage non-screen activities like physical activities, socializing, and other hands-on learning experiences.
Monitor screen time and make adjustments as needed. If you notice that your child seems overly-engaged with screens, or is having difficulty transitioning away from screens, it may be necessary to reduce screen time.
Provide a variety of screen-based activities, so that children can find something they enjoy.
Keep the screens in a common area of the house and supervise the child’s use of screens.
Use apps and software that can help to limit screen time, such as parental controls, or apps that monitor usage.
Encourage children to take breaks and do other activities every 30-60 minutes, when using screens.
Consider consulting with a pediatrician or a child development expert for guidance on the appropriate amount of screen time for children with autism.