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Children with ASD should reduce their screen time

Children with ASD are uniquely vulnerable to various brain-related impacts of screen time. These electronic side effects include hyperarousal and dysregulation—what I call Electronic Screen Syndrome—as well as technology addiction, to video games, internet, smartphones, social media, and so on.


Why? Because a brain with autism has inherent characteristics that screen time exacerbates. In truth, these impacts occur in all of us, but children with autism will be both more prone to experiencing negative effects and less able to recover from them.










According to data from Early electronic screen exposure and autistic-like symptoms. Early electronic screen over-expose could cause ASD. As we know, electronic exposure to kid has some positive effect. But at the same time, what is the negative effect? :

The benefits in summary are:

  • creating learning opportunities

  • increasing knowledge

  • increasing opportunities for social contact and support.

The risks include:

  • negative effects on sleep

  • problems with attention and learning

  • higher incidence of obesity and depression

  • exposure to inaccurate, inappropriate and/or unsafe content and people

  • compromised privacy and confidentiality (Chassiakos et al., 2016; Westby, 2016).


So what we can do to avoid the risk?

Current recommendations
A report published by Family First New Zealand in 2015 states the following in regards to screen time. These guidelines are not specific to people on the autism spectrum and relate to entertainment use only and do not factor in screen time for educational purposes.
3-5 years ……………….0.5 – 1 hour/day
5-7 years ……………….1 – 1.5 hours/day
7-12 years ………………1 – 1.5 hours/day
12-15 years …………….1.5 – 2 hours/day
16+ ………………………2 hours/day


Routines – Establish routines around rules

  • It may be helpful to use a visual aid such as a timer to show how much screen time your child has left.

  • Remind the child before time is up (e.g. five minutes left, one minute left).

  • Reward appropriate behaviour (e.g. turning the TV off when the timer goes off means getting to play cards with a parent, going for a walk, or some other activity that interests the child – but don’t reward with more screen time!).

  • Develop a list of alternative activities – this could be a visual list of activities to pick from such as after tablet time outside playtime (use this list to help with identifying rewards for appropriate behaviour).

  • Make sure your child is getting enough exercise, social interactions and other developmental aspects that may be hindered by screen time.

  • Be consistent with rules and routines.

  • Role-model good behaviour in regards to screen time (i.e. show the child you can switch off screens too).

It’s Christmas time! Decorate a Christmas tree with your kids?

We are at the end of November, and it is only a few days before December, which means Christmas is getting closer. What's our kids' favourite Christmas activities then? It usually includes decorating a Christmas tree and receiving gifts. Then how should we encourage and help our kids to get what they want?

Why should we encourage kids to decorate Christmas trees?

Skills your child can gain from this activity: 

Creativity, Following direction, Language development, Measuring, Motor skills, Planning, Position, Sequencing, Sorting and grouping, Spatial awareness

When your child helps you to decorate a Christmas tree, they are learning similarities and differences in decorations and using language to describe how these decorations are different. This helps kids to learn sorting, grouping and classification skills.













As they listen to your instruction, they will be hearing and responding to directional language that involves measurement, colour, and location.

Learning to listen to what is being said, waiting for the speaker to finish before responding and then answering what has been asked helps to build friendships between kids as well as enhancing communication skills.

You can keep asking questions while decorating, it will help developing kids conversation skills

  • What colour ball will we hang on the tree first?

  • What will we put on the top of the tree?

  • Are all the baubles the same size?

  • Which decorations do you like the best?

  • Will we put the same decorations on the tree outside as the one inside?

  • Why don’t we turn the tree lights on during the day?


How to decorate a Christmas tree?

  1. Invest in a high-quality artificial tree

  2. Fluff and shape branches

  3. Design around a theme

  4. Start with the lights first

  5. Choose the right decorations

  6. Cluster your baubles

  7. Layer and style ribbons

  8. Use tree picks

  9. Choose the right tree topper

  10. Balance the décor

  11. Finish off with a tree skirt


Share all these memorable experiences with your kids and family and have a fun Christmas! 



Julie Peake, (2019). Screen time for children on the autism spectrum. Altogether Autism, 2019 March.
Family First (2015). We need to talk – Screen time in NZ, Media Use: An emerging factor in child and adolescent health.
Donna, H., Farid, R., Tanjung, S., Tri, W. (2018). Early electronic screen exposure and autistic-like symptoms. Intractable Rare Dis Res, 7(1): 69–71. 2018 Feb.
Chassiakos, Y., Radesky, J., Christakis, D., Moreno, M., Cross, C. (2016). Child and adolescents and digital media. Pediatrics, volume 138, 5, November 2016.
Editor, O. (2020, November 21). How to decorate your Christmas tree like a professional. Retrieved November 26, 2020, from
Development, E. (2017, February 08). Decorating the Christmas tree. Retrieved November 26, 2020, from
Zander, M. (2015, December 22). I Let My Kids Decorate The Christmas Tree, & Here's How It Went. Retrieved November 26, 2020, from
Kidspot (2019, November 25). Fun ways to decorate your Christmas tree with the kids: Christmas: Christmas Kidspot. Retrieved November 26, 2020, from

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