Studies Show Television May Harm the Sleep Cycle of Children with ASD

A new study from the University of Missouri suggests that having a television or computer in the bedroom may be particularly harmful to boys diagnosed with autism

While research has shown that in-bedroom access to computers, video-games and television is disruptive to the sleep-cycle of all developing boys (ages 3-17), the correlation between sleep loss and media exposure is twice as strong in boys with ASD.

“This association can potentially be problematic,” says Christopher  Engelhardt, who led the study at the University of Missouri. “The reduction in sleep interferes with other daily activities, such as school, homework, interactions with other people, or driving,”

Engelhardt’s study revealed that boys with ASD who have computers in their bedroom receive on average two hours less sleep than those with no computers in their bedroom.

While the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends screen access be limited to no more than two hours a day for all children, this can be especially important for those diagnosed with autism. Past research has shown that people with autism spend more time on media outlets, given the stimulating audio and visuals. It is also thought that engaging in television and video games is easier than engaging in social interactions.

While screen play has benefits in treating ASD, like reinforcing certain behaviors, it’s crucial to monitor time spent in front of computers, televisions and things of the sort.


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