Friday, March 30, 2012

Technology Toxicity in Autistic Children?

The Centers for Disease Control released new stats yesterday on the prevalence of autism -- a staggering 1 in 88 children. Two years ago the number was 1 in a 150. In 2 years has human biology changed that much? Could we be evolving or de-evolving during a 2 year period?

Are there more ASD kids or are we looking at childhood development in a different way, thus allowing for increased numbers of kids with ASD? Or, is there something about the 21st century world/environment that is some how interacting with and changing human biology?

I have worked with more than 500 ASD children, teens and young adults over the past 12 years and one point I am sure of is technology is major part of everyday life, beginning as early as 9 months (Baby Einstein). This early introduction of technology I believe is changing the way ASD children think and behave by exacerbating their specific neurological vulnerabilities! The way in which children with ASD use technology -- computers, gaming, hand held devices -- increases their core deficits because technology increases repetitive and static thinking. Technology makes children more autistic by stimulating social isolation and static and repetitive thinking/behavior while providing intense and sustained states of pleasure. 

What could be worse for the autistic brain than a stimulus that is free, ever present, sanctioned by society, that allows the ASD child/teen/young adult to be in a state of isolation without experiencing loneliness or anxiety. Technology, for children on the spectrum, can be viewed as a highly destructive toxin in part because no one views technology as toxic --  and thus the ASD child/teen is inundated with screen time. In the ASD world technology is perceived as a savior not a curse.

One experiment that would be very instructive would involve two groups of ASD children with identical intervention programs (ABA, speech, floor time, OT, recreational therapy, etc) -- one group would have access to technology on a daily basis ( 2 hours per day) and the other groups would not have access to technology at all for a 24 week period. Thoughts?

No comments:

Post a Comment