Thomas and the TV Debate

Thomas the Tank Engine''.

Image via Wikipedia

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.

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2 Responses to Thomas and the TV Debate

  1. Carters says:

    You are sooo right! We are so grateful to Tad the turtle from LeapFrog (without him Seychelle would not be reading LOL ) or even Winnie the Pooh for counting & learning how to count with her finger and stop before saying the next number before she actually gets there!!) There is alot to be said for tv programs & their positive developmental influence on kids. They are alo a great source of rewards & a chance for the parent to catch a breather during the day (which helps make me a better Mom!).

    Pretty much most of the TV programs for littlies have fantastic value.
    Great post!

    • We’ve also found that Thomas was only the start – all sorts of kids tv shows taught me new ways to teach and encourage my son – new ways to get through to him and engage him. It’s a valuable resource!

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