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back to article Does TV watching in childhood trigger autism?

Also in this week's column: Why do I have an extreme fear of needles? Is it true that fewer boy babies are born in hard times? Does TV watching in childhood trigger autism? Autism is at epidemic levels. Authorities point out that 30 years ago estimates were that one in 2,500 children suffered from autism. Now the figure is …

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Anonymous Coward

The Dreaded Telly

The reason

Well that’s a relief, at least I know why they’re autistic now. Nothing to do with mercury poisoning, the MMR vaccine, Thimerosol, refrigerator mother or luck, just too much telly. Fancy that! Who’d have thought it? Not a cure of course but a cause. I haven’t had time to check out whether it’s really too much telly or just any telly, but it doesn’t really matter now as they’ve already been contaminated. It’s great, now I have someone else to blame. And there was me thinking that Leaky Gut Syndrome was the answer. When we first came to America we didn’t even have a television as we didn’t think there was anything worth watching then, nor did we know anything about the ‘Theory of Mind.’ We were drawn in after a while though, tempted by public television and the small entertainment budget of immigrants. But I think that was their father’s fault, which ties in with the theory of the ‘Extreme Male Brain.’ By the time the children started arriving we discovered a few programs for little children. I always thought it was Barney and his social skills training that did the damage, but now I’m not so sure whether I should perhaps be looking at Elmo in a whole new light. These days, having branched out into cable TV, clearly I need look no further than Spongebob and his rabble. A curse on all their houses for warping my children. I’m an American now, so perhaps I should sue somebody, anybody. Who cares about parental responsibility, we were duped, it was supposed to be educational not corrupting. Nothing to do with faulty neurons after all, what luck!

It’s a shame really as it removes one of many, many tools in my arsenal of bribes to motivate them, and you need a great deal of motivation with autistic children. It’s only one of many, but it’s a powerful one. It’s the solution to any number of obstacles in the average day, a whole laundry list of achievements can gradually be built up with the promise of telly at the end of the day; get dressed, use the toilet, wash your hands, the list goes on and on. I know there other rewards such as verbal praise, a high five, a hug but the autistic child is not motivated by such trivialities, or at least mine aren’t, but that’s probably because I’m a refrigerator mom.

Never mind, like many parents above all other things, 30 minutes of telly means that I can prepare dinner and don’t say it would be better if I allowed them to help, it would and I sometimes do, but their fine and gross motor skills are a challenge for all of us. But when alls said and done, I blame the dodgy gene pool myself.

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