Internet Access for Children with Autism – The Good, Bad and Ugly Side of it

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An autistic boy has been banned from viewing any online content, due to his addiction to television and computer games by his mother.

Deborah Rhodes, the mother of the autistic child removed and disconnected the devices at her home, to help her autistic son overcome his addiction.

excess-internet-to-blame-for-autism
Deborah, who restricted her Autistic son Alvin,11, from accessing the internet

She took this step after noticing her son, Alvin – aged 11 years, spending excessive time which affected his learning and social behaviours.

This step is in contrast with what many experts believe. Most experts encourage children with ASD to go online as it helps them more in socialising and learning new things.

READ: Excess Internet to Blame for ADHD

On the other hand, the ministry of health warns non-autistic children, not to spend more than 2 hours in front of the television.

Previous studies carried around the world by many experts highlight the fact that children within autism spectrum, spend more time on screens than their normally developing peers.

Due to this, they are more prone to get addicted and develop problematic behavior as a result of their activities.

Rhodes, recollected an instance, when her son – Alvin, used to get up secretly after everyone had retired for the day, to play games.

At this point, Rhodes decided to pull off the plug. Alvin was addicted to the video game ‘Minecraft’, the mother recounted.

READ: 7 Mind Simulation Games for Autism

Rhodes said that her son did not have the ability to come up with another engagement when the game was turned off.

His entire physical activity was minimised, he was a lot more tired and generally it took them longer to go to sleep at night

, said Deborah.

After having the screens removed Rhode’s noticed a change in her son’s behavior. He genuinely started to show an interest in his school activities.

The teachers assisted the mother, in monitoring Alvin’s screen activities prescribed in his learning program.

Nevertheless, professionals say that children diagnosed with autism find their online experience as calming. It takes away the anxiety and pressure of actual social interaction, and allows them to associate or involve at their own pace.

Rhodes argues that the games are designed in a way to cause addiction among players,

. . . most of the games and apps are designed to appeal to the autistic brain, and they are coded and written in a way that they understand, so it’s even easier for them to become addicted.

This statement was also supported by Counsellor Mathew McMillan who counsels teenagers and children addicted to online gaming.

Kids with autism and other social issues have been observed to be more comfortable online, engaged in their own world, says McMillan.

As a part of the counseling program, it is important to look at the factors behind the child’s addictive nature and what is motivating them to get obsessed.

Also, one must take into consideration the family dynamics of the child concerned.

Nevertheless, the internet is becoming more than a necessity, like food. However, if you tend to overdo it lands you into a problem.

Dane Duggan, CEO – Autism New Zealand, says though his organization promotes kids with autism being online, it is important on parent’s part to understand what is good for their children.

Duggan says, some of the autistic kids enjoy being online and they are more comfortable with their world on the other side, however, it is the parent’s responsibility to make sure they are using online tools for the right purpose.

Tracking their online activities at an earlier stage can help children in reaching their full potential ad they grow up.

It is also imperative to note that every family is unique, and everyone has a right to decide what is best for their children and family.

RELATED NEWS: The Generation’s Loosing Battle Against Technology Induced ADD

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