Tuesday, October 17, 2006


While I'm not one to jump every time our local news flashes their latest scare "special report" (Can the socks you're wearing KILL YOU?!?,) I was intrigued by something I found on Slate.com today about current research on Autism. The idea that there's something I'm doing (or not doing) that could hurt the girls scares me. But I also want to take everything with an ounce of salt - the recent reports that non-organic milk was harmful to young girls turned out to be a myth: Washington Post.

The Autism report finds a link between television viewing and autism rates in certain areas. The link is circumstantial at best but enough to warrant further research. Autism has been on the rise but scientists have been baffled as to why. In the last few years research studies have found possible causes for the increases in autism, including vaccines, genetics, and now television.

Take a look at the Slate story. Several of you are much more knowledgeable on the subject than I am so I'm interested in what you think. Parents also please let me know what you think. Slate Article

Also, some other findings:

Genetic Link: From MSNBC

Vaccines (myth): CDC


Anonymous said...

I've ben following your blog and thought of sharing it with you. Have you read 'The curious incident of the dog in the night-time'? Story of a boy with symptoms of Aspergers Syndrome though the author does not mention the AS or autism anywhere in the book. Read about the book on:

Jatinder Preet
Ludhiana, Punjab
Ph. 098155 12084

Joel Bittle said...

Thank you for your post, Jatinder. Yes, I have read "The Curious Incident..." as have most of my family. It's well written and, like you said in your blog, helps you realize the beauty of simple things.

I spent a summer working with my mother in special education in Sacramento, CA. While there, I spent some time with autistic children and saw many of the traits shown by Christopher.

Anonymous said...

Hi Joel,
While you were writing this I was reading that SLATE article. As you said autism has been attributed to so many "causes" that one more is not surprising. Although I do not personally subscribe to too much T.V. watching (for children), I know that it is usually necessary for parent's sanity. Autism, in my opinion is a pre-existing condition exaperated by one or more contributing conditions. Too much T.V. may be one of them. The lead used in babies shots or the age of the father could also contribute. The bottom line is that I don't think children "catch" autism. Many institutes are spending full time studying and trying to explain autism. I'll wait until they come out with a difinitive statement. Until then, if you are worried about too much T.V. take the girls up to the third floor.
I love you all!!!

Joel Bittle said...

oh, yes, studies have shown since the reading of this article the Bittle girls have spent more time on the third floor.

Patty said...

I love your blog. I'm a new mom (15 month old daughter) and spent the first year of her life at home. I find myself doing some of the same things that you write about.. singing about tantrums, etc. Too funny!

re: autism and TV - I'm wondering if the argument is actually the other way around? Maybe kids with autism are naturally drawn to TV rather than other kids, since autism is primarily characterized by problems with social interaction, maybe those kids just feel better being in front of the TV, alone, than playing with other kids or interacting with their parents. I know that TV, computer/video games are like a "tonic" for kids with ADD (they can just sit for hours staring at the screen) so maybe it works the same way with autistic kids, who knows.

I have not been all that careful with TV with my own daughter, however, even with the TV on she has not shown much interest in it. If it's on she'll scoot by it, stare at something for a few seconds, and then she's off to explore something else, or dance in the kitchen, to read a few books, or play with her toys. She's just not that interested in sitting still to watch television. It's not really "her thing", so I'm not too worried about too much exposure to television. (However, now that she's older I try to shield her from disturbing images, etc (such as the news!)).

Anonymous said...

Are there any studies that show what leaving kids with someone other than mom and dad for 3 days will do to them???? Hopefully you can't negativeily effect them in that short of a time period:)
What happens if you kiss them for prolonged periods of time say like contiuously for three days? You might want to visit www.ohmygoshjennycan'twaittohavekateandclaraalltoherself.com fior some answers.
gushing with love

Joel Bittle said...

Thank you for your post, Patty. There does seem to be something about television and videos that autistic kids connect to. If you haven't read this report http://autism.about.com/od/inspirationideas/tp/TVOK.htm it's worth a read. I can't imagine a 15 month old who can ignore the television - Clara would sit there with a vacant stare and her mouth open.

And Jenny, I checked out that website but it didn't have any information on psychological dangers of leaving my kids with you and Todd. There was just a picture of you saying, "Give me those kids!"

Joel Bittle said...

For some idea of the discussion nationwide on this article, type "autism" into that box at the top of the screen and click on "search all blogs" - seems the study has hit a nerve

Anonymous said...

Studies have shown that continual kissing of two little girls for three days will cause labial conjuctivitis for all involved. However, if kissing occurs on one day with a day break in between then you can avoid this painful and embarasing condition. My recommendation is that you alternate kissing one baby then the other.
I am seriously jealous. Have fun!!!

Anonymous said...

I'm a firm believer of "beware of statistics." The first rule we learned in school statitics was "correlation doesn't necessarily equal causation." I'm not an expert (but I'll pretend to be one for this post). Wasn't autism diagnosed, or at least became defined, in the 80's? That was also the same time that cable TV started to become popular. Couldn't this just be a big timing cooincidence? The research described in the article seemed fuzzy at best.

That aside, 4 hours a day of TV seems like a lot. I'd worry about how much life my kids are missing more than anything. Of course, 4 hours of TV a night for me - just fine!


Tracy Bittle said...

I can't believe Clara would sit in front of the TV so long. Of my three only Kyle would watch tv that long without interuption. Adam and Alex were the cruise by and see if something caught their eye kids. Well, until they were older and we begged them to please sit still for 30 min of tv time.

Now all three watch too much tv. Well maybe not, maybe just seems so on certain days. Some days the tv isn't on at all and other days it's on for hours on end.

I'm with Megan several hours each night for me is perfectly acceptable :).


mcewen said...

As a new blogger I don't want to offend, but I'm grateful to hear mainstream parents view on autism and television. It's very reassuring. Best wishes