Autism is a social communication disorder. It makes ASD children uniquely vulnerable to screen time. IPad and other screen gadgets have various brain-associated impacts on ASD children and an autistic child may become obsessed with the iPad. Therefore, if your child is obsessed with the iPad, tablets, computers, and other screens, be careful about the usage of these gadgets. If usage of e-gadgets is not properly supervised then Ipad for kids can really be detrimental to their brain development.
It is very important to find ways that how can you use these screens in a constructive way to help cure your child at home. As well as find alternatives to screen time. Also, encourage your ASD child social interactions for his social and emotional growth.
Use of Technology iPad, Tablets, etc for Good
Limited use of technology can help children with autism in many ways. But keep in mind that the duration of usage of these gadgets should not exceed more than 15 minutes per sitting. You can give these gadgets on fix timings two or three times per day for fixed fifteen minutes not more than that. Here is practical guidance for the parents of autistic children, who are obsessed with iPad.
With the aid of these guidelines, you can get the most benefits from technology. Moreover, you can avoid the associated problems as well.
Advantages of Uses of Technology for Children with Autism
Technology made it possible to have lots of fun, educational activities, and useful content on one portable device.
1. Joy, Fun, Leisure and More Contact
An iPad or tablet has multiple interactive features that can help you to make your child sit with you. For example, present a story on a tablet or iPad.
In this way, they will share their joy and experience with you. And this will result in strengthening relationships.
2. Communication and Social Skills
So many autism apps for iPads are available, which can help you to create new symbols, schedules, and stories for your autistic child. These apps make communication easy as there is no need to carry a large folder of Velcroed, laminated symbols with you.
Although many audio output apps for iPad are available. But there is no strong evidence that either these apps are effective or not. No one is sure that these audio output apps really have a positive effect on the language development of autistic children.
So, it is suggested to discuss it carefully with your child’s teacher, speech therapist and language therapist or other professionals first.
3. Help in Overcoming Social Isolation
It is often said that the use of iPad and Tablets is antisocial activity. But it is not so. The moderate use of technology like watch youtube videos, online games for kids with autism enhance their skills and give them some topic to talk about with their peers.
Parents can help their children with autism to learn how to use these online communities safely. And also learn how they can overcome their social isolation with the help of iPad.
It is very important to keep a balance between technology and real life.
4. Use as a Motivational Reward
When you are teaching them a new skill then you can offer them access to iPad/tablet for some time. In this way, you are giving them a reward for their appropriate behavior.
5. Help to Manage Anxiety
Children with autism when watch youtube clips and videos, may find ways to regulate their well-being. Technology may help your child to calm down and manage their anxiety.
Limitations of Technology
Autistic children are uniquely vulnerable to the side effects of screen time. Their brain development can be affected. Although screen time has its various brain-related impacts on all of us. But it has adverse effects on an autistic child as there are chances that they will become addicted to screen.
Children with autism are more prone to the negative effects of screen time. They are less capable to recover from these negative effects of electronics on children. Their brains are more sensitive and less resilient.
Although, families who are dealing with autism often advocate the use of technology like;
- It helps to deal with disruptive behavior.
- Use of iPad is as normal as playing with other kid.
- It will make it skill full of computers.
- Tablets /iPad will help to improve reading skills.
All these above-mentioned statements are right to some extent. But it is very important to keep in mind that excess of everything is bad and lethal. Parents should have a check on the iPad time limit.
There are Seven reasons children with autism should have limited screen time and controlled access to iPad, tablets, and computers.
1. Disrupts Sleep
Melatonin is very important for our body. Melatonin regulates sleep, modulates hormones, regulates body clock, and balances the immune system. But screen time suppresses melatonin and disrupts sleep. And children with autism tend to have less melatonin. They also have sleep disturbances.
Therefore it is very important to let your autistic child, as well as all other young children, have limited use of iPad or tablet.
2. Inflammation of the Nervous System may Increase.
Light-at-night from screens suppresses REM sleep which may increase stress hormones. It also suppresses melatonin, and non-restorative sleep. Due to these, inflammation of the nervous system may increase.
3. Social and Communication Deficits
Social and communications deficits are the characteristics of autism such as impaired eye contact, low empathy, and impaired communication.
Too much indulgence in iPad has shown a link to delay language acquisition, make children obsessed with iPad and there are increased chances of development of virtual autism.
4. Prone to Anxiety
There are pieces of evidence that screen time is linked to abnormalities in serotonin synthesis and amygdala activity. And both serotonin regulation and amygdala changes increase the risk of OCD, obsessive-compulsive Disorder and Social anxiety.
5. Delayed Sensory and Motor Skills
Children With autism have sensory-motor integration issues. Autistic child obsession of iPad has been linked to the worsening of sensory-motor processing.
6. Risk of Development of Addiction to Youtube Video Games for kids with Autism
Individuals with autism are typically highly attracted to screen-based technology. When they use iPad, dopamine releases by screen interaction. Which reinforces these obsessive loops. Therefore there are chances of developing an addiction to video games and autistic child will be obsessed with iPad and electronic screens.
7. Sensitive to EMF’s
Children with autism are more sensitive to Electromagnetic fields. These EMFs are emitted from wireless devices such as WiFi, cell phones, and electronic devices. Too much exposure to EMFs may worsen the immune abnormalities.
How to Help Autistic Child Obsessed with iPad?
Your child loves iPad / Tablet and asks for it as soon as he opens her eyes. But as a parent, you know that autism is a social communication disorder. And too much use of iPad can be detrimental to his brain development.
So, here are some interventions and strategies to help your autistic child obsessed with iPad to overcome screen obsession.
1. Walk the walk and not just talk
Children watch you and do what you do. So, if you really want to minimize the use of the digital screen for your children and virtual autism. Then you have to put your iPad/cell phone/tablet/computer away. Play with your child & give them attention to do any task.
2. Say NO to Technology at some Specific Times
Avoid using these gadgets at the dinner table. You should use this mealtime for conversation and interaction. This will help your child to practice social and communication skills.
3. Use Electronic Devices for Toddlers Purposefully
Teach your children that these iPads and tablets are not just for playing games and watching youtube videos. You should teach them how can we use these electronic pads for kids purposefully in our life.
4. Keep Interacting with Your Child
When your child plays games or watches youtube videos, do not let him get sucked into his world. Sit with him/her. Learn How to teach an autistic child to talk & Talk with him about the game.
Help him to use this as an educational opportunity. You should watch youtube videos together. And you should have some conversation about these videos.
5. Make a Schedule for iPad / Tablet Use
As a parent, it is you who can judge how much time for iPad should be allowed to your child. Then first make a schedule. And put the iPad screen time symbol on it. This will help you to minimize the use of the iPad and obsession of iPad.
6. Find Exciting Activities for Your Child with Autism
Provide your child with autism indoor and outdoor games. Encourage him to play outside. Motivate him to connect with other kids. Provide him books to read and discuss those characters of the story with him.
7. Turn off all Technology Gadgets in the House at least Two Hours before sleep time
Screen time may disrupt the sleep of individuals with or without autism. Make a healthy habit in your home and turn all screen devices off at least two hours before bedtime.
Encourage your child to read a book, do coloring, write what he wants, or play with quiet toys.
Although it is tricky to turn off technology gadgets at home. But promoting a healthy social environment at your home is totally worth it. This way you can help your autistic child obsessed with iPad.
Also read about autism spectrum disorder to have more understanding about the disorder.