It’s the common parenting wisdom now that there are no benefits and plenty of detriments, to exposing your preschool children to TV. I’m of the view that as long as you monitor what they’re watching, make it interactive, and give them time for plenty of other (more active) activities, that there are some large benefits for both the child and the whole family, from preschoolers watching TV. There’s a lot to be said on this issue, especially in regards to Autistic children, but at this stage I just want to introduce a special little Train who vastly improved our lives.
The idea that “Thomas the Tank Engine” has strong appeal and applications in the lives of Autistic children, is not a new one. Indeed, the first full book I read about Autism, as recommended by my son’s pediatrician, was “A Friend Like Henry” – about the influence Henry the train from the Thomas series (and the dog named after him), had on an Autistic child. Thomas’ relationship with Autistic children is also acknowledged on the official Thomas webpage, and in various studies.
The anti-TV stance is just one example of how much of modern parenting wisdom is aimed at your “average” child, instead of taking the much more helpful approach of encouraging parents to respond to the individual child and their specific stage of development. Frankly, I would have exposed my child to TV even if he hadn’t been Autistic, but being Autistic is a reason to actively try to access the benefits of watching TV – as a parent of a special needs kid you need to be willing to embrace whatever solutions present themselves. Especially if it’s otherwise just sitting there in the corner of your room, turned off all day because modern parenting wisdom told you to leave it that way.