Friday, June 5, 2009

Family TV Watching and Autism

I came across this article on TV watching and autism on Twitter from @cozycalm. Eileen Parker is owner of Cozy Calm Weighted Blanket Store. I really enjoyed reading this article because it is written from her own experiences (she has SPD, high functioning autism and OCD). Her blog offers interesting reading and helpful tips. She has given us permission to reprint her blog post here on this topic. In my opinion, this article offers some great suggestions for parents and therapists (to pass this info along). Thanks, Eileen Parker for your insight and helpful information.

Family TV Watching and Autism
By: Eileen Parker on May 8, 2009.

You can help your child with autism lower their stress level with some simple rules about family TV watching.

As a child and now an adult with autism and sensory processing disorder, I know that TV can be stressful to the point of jumping, tears, anger, confusion, and other reactions. As an adult, I have learned to contain some of my reaction in front of others, but children don’t necessarily have that regulation built in yet. Also, while watching TV, I will start to feel upset. I often don’t realize what is bothering me early on, but I have learned to identify my own signs.

When my hubby and his kids are talking and watching sports, I have to leave the room, close the door, and go away because my aggravation from the sound continues to elevate until it boils.

A child may not know that they can leave the room to a quieter place. A family member may even tell the child to stay in that room or the TV may be audible throughout the house, so the child has no escape from the sound. With the noises from the TV, the child’s irritability can climb all day.

Here are some TV rules that could make your child’s life much more relaxed:

1. No talking while the TV is on. More than one source of sound is not merely aggravating; it feels like a hurt in the brain.
2. Mute the commercials. The sudden jarring sound of a blasting commercial bashing into the ears can make your child jump, sweat, breathe fast, or make sounds.
3. If your TV has the capability, lower the treble. The higher register noises are more painful.
4. Put the TV in an enclosed room and close the door so your child does not have to hear it.
5. If you are not watching the TV, turn it off.
6. Have your child look away from the screen during commercials so the fast-moving visual stimuli don’t make it worse.
7. Turn the volume down.
8. Learn to make TV more bearable for your child by doing a brushing protocol first. Your child can also lie under a weighted blanket while watching TV.

Visit to view her blog or go to to check out her weighted blankets.

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