When it comes to tackling screen time for kids with autism, it is truly a balancing act. For many of our children, video games are a social outlet and apps are communication tools. Then to top it off, many children have begun schooling virtually. On the other hand, too much screen time for any child has been linked to behavioral issues, sleep problems, educational struggles, and so much more. So where is the fine line between enough and too much screen time for autistic children?
When out girls were little, tablets and phones for children were practically unheard of. Our television was constantly tuned to PBS every day in hopes to clean the house or make myself something quick to eat. Trips to the grocery store require a giant diaper bag of toys, snacks, and drinks to keep them occupied. The best invention I found at that time to ease my trips to the store was those carts with the additional two seats. While awful to push around, having all three children buckled in was amazing!
Looking back though, I still am not sure how I managed three neurodiverse little girls by myself. When meltdowns occurred, I had to learn very quickly how to help the child struggling while making sure the others needs were met at the same time. Once Netflix became an app that worked well on phones, it was life changing as a parent. I could get through the store or doctor’s appointments so much easier.
However, there are some obvious disadvantages or negative effects that come from screen time. It’s all about balance and clear guidelines. As a mother of autistic children, here are some tips I’ve learned on how to tackle screen time for kids with autism…
Beneficial Learning Aspects
Fast forward several years to my son. At two, we had a tablet just for him. Eighteen years ago, I could not have imagined buying a tablet for a toddler. However, that same tablet became a means of communication and educational learning. He had apps for learning basic words, social skills, as well as for entertainment. It was a lifeline for my son to learn the things he was severally behind on while having fun at the same time.