Community Magazine

Not Asking for TV

By Matthewspuzzle @matthewspuzzle


Not Asking for TV

Asking for TV

When it comes to autism, asking for TV is a big deal. In fact asking for electronics is often a big draw for kids on the spectrum. In our house it has always been computer, TV and their leap frog explorer. Ever since Matthew was little his preferred activity was to play with any sort of toy that was more like a TV or computer. It actually has been something we have spent a lot of time addressing, that is, how to get him to play with other toys and leave the electronics alone.

We are constantly told that excessive TV and computer are bad for our children, and in our home our two neurotypical children have no problem turning off the TV and playing with their toys. They use their imaginations and enjoy Legos, reading, playsets, etc. But for Matthew that sort of pretend play has always been difficult for him, so he typically opts for the TV. He could spend hours watching television without getting bored, and he never showed much interest in other sorts of play. We have tried coloring and drawing, but they require fine motor skills, which is a difficulty for him, and they often require imagination and attention to detail. None of these things appeal to Matthew. I have tried engage him in outdoor activity such as our playset, but he has no interest. At most we will get him engaged for 5 minutes and then he is asking to return inside to his beloved TV. I’ve asked professional after professional how to get him to play on his own and none have been able to give me any concrete help. Usually their advice it so set up play schedules for him and move him from activity to activity throughout the day. Have you ever tried to come up with enough activities to fill a full Saturday or Sunday when your child’s interest can only be maintained for 10 minutes at a time? It is nearly impossible and you have absolutely zero downtime for yourself. It is yet another way autism effects the whole family in a subtle yet profound way. Your child can not play on their own, and you are required to fill every moment for them or you result to allowing them to spend time with the TV or computer.

So when Matthew came downstairs the other day and never asked for the TV or the computer you can imagine how momentous that day was. He actually spent over an hour just playing with the things he found around the family room. He enjoyed himself and even asked to be given a chore to call his own. He is now helping me to unload the dishwasher! I think the biggest breakthrough came when he had spent time watching TV and after a little while he turned the TV and said to me “Mom, I’m done with my shows so I tuned the TV. I want to do something else, I’m bored.” I felt both thrilled and terrible. Thrilled because he was asking for something else to do. He didn’t want electronics! Terrible because I was sorely unprepared for this to happen and had nothing for him to do. I’m working on rectifying that. Stay Well.

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