Lila watches quite a bit of TV. I know there are those who would judge us for that – but I’m going to tell you WHY we allow it. It’s certainly not to get “free” time for ourselves, because we have to be very-much involved in TV time.
Back in 2014, I read “Life, Animated” by Ron Suskind. In the book, he chronicles the journey of their son – Owen, who loved to watch Disney films over and over. Owen learned to communicate, read, and navigate social situations not in spite of the movies… but because of them.
When autistic children watch TV, they’re more likely to mimic what they’re seeing and hearing (then when they’re interacting with actual people). There’s no social pressure on them to do so, and that helps them relax. Lila has a “TV Time” card which is on the visual schedule every evening.
SO…. every evening we spend hours dancing around together, singing, and scripting the shows that she loves most – and let me tell you… the intense JOY she shows from watching her two world collide is more than enough proof for me that it’s the right thing to do. The pictures I post of Lila looking ecstatic – that’s almost always what they’re from. In addition, the few words she’s able to say almost have always initially come from watching these shows.
She gravitates towards TV shows that have strong learning components, and those are the ones she watches: they help her learn colors, shapes, counting, words, etc. They help her learn to navigating social situations – a lot of the learning comes via music – which Lila has connected to since very early on.
We take whatever she’s into – whether it be TV, hair twisties, balloons, iPad – and USE that for therapy purposes. We’ve seen tremendous progress with this approach. She’s learning and growing – and having FUN in the process! I’ve had to let go of a lot of my pre-conceived notions in regard to parenting – Lila has (and undoubtedly will continue) to show us the best ways to help her learn and grow.